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O F A 


O F T H E 









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ERMIT me, My Lord, to prefent you with the firft fruits 
>H ■*■ of many years painful labour ; in the pleafing hope of being, 

E;^ one day, able to lay before you the whole harveft. That the/e 

* or that will be worthy of your Lordship's and the Pubx.ic's 

acceptance, it would be prefumptuous in me to faV, but is ex- 
tremely natural for me to wifli. Meanwhile, I have the honour 
to be, with very great refped, 



My Lord, 

Your Lordfhip's 

Ever grateful and 

Moft obedient humble fervant, 


n A. G. 




THE following Profpedus was fairly written out for the prefs 
nearly two years ago. This, it is hoped, will account for fome 
things being added in the notes, which, perhaps, might have been 
more properly incorporated in the text. In reading over the 
printed fheets, I have obferved fome typographical errors, the prin- 
cipal of which are corrected on the reverfe of this leaf: but there 
is a miftake page loo line 15, that needs to be apologized for. 
An edition of the New Teflament is there faid to have been men- 
tioned before, although it is not mentioned till afterwards, in the 
ijote, p. 131, which the reader is requefled to attend to. 


Page 3a. in the note read — Septuaginta. 

36. in tlie note read — counfils. 

38. 1. 10. read — a more correft. 

63. 1. II. read — perfuade. 

1 10. 1. 5. read — trandators. 

116. 1. 9. read — Oecnmenius. 

121. I. 5. read — memoirei. 

137. 1. 19. read — exclude. 


O F A 





AVING long made the Holy Scriptures and the lan- 
guages in which they were originally written, my particular fludy, I 
ventured, fome years ago, to give an Idea of a new Tranflation of 
the whole Bible; at the requeft: of a perfon of diftinclion, who 
wifhed I would undertake fuch a work. That Iketch, imperfecfl as 
it was, meeting with the approbation of fome of the moft learned 
and refpedlable characflers in the kingdom, I have been fince ad- 
vifcd by my friends to publifh a more ample Trofpeftus; and, for 
many reafons, I find myfelf ftrongly difpofed to follow their advice. 
For although it mufl be yet fome confiderable time, before the 
Tranflation itfelf will be ready for the prefs, there can be no impro- 
priety in letting the learned public know, that it is preparing; and 
putting it in the power of thofe who choofe it, to help me with their 



counfel and afllftance, in the profecution of fo laborious and ardu- 
ous an undertaking. 

That a new Tranflatlon of the Bible, particularly of the Old 
Teftament, is ftill wanted, I fhall affume as a pofition generally a- 
greed upon. T.> explore the caufes that have concurred to render 
former Tranflations defedlive, and to point out the means and me- 
thod by which a part of their defedls may be removed, is the inten- 
tion of this Prospectus; which I now deliver to the public, with 
•all that anxious diffidence, which the great importance of the fub- 
jedl and the mediocrity of my abilities demand. 

The firft and principal caufe of the imperfection of almoft all 
modern Tranflations of the Bible is to be fought for in the imper- 
fection and incorretftnefs of the originals, from which they were 
made ; for, when the text to be tranflated is itfelf corrupted, the 
tranflatlon mufl neceflTarily participate of its corruption: but mo- 
dern tranflations of the Bible have, almoft all, been made from a 
text in many places corrupted : How then could they fail to be, at 
leaft, equally faulty? 

It is an afl^ertion no lefs ftrange than true, that the text of fcarcely 
any profane author of note has been fo incorredly publiflied as 
that of the Hebrew Scriptures. To reftore Demofthenes, Tully, 
Virgil, Horace, as nearly as poflible, to their firft integrity, no 
human pains have been fpared : libraries have been ranfacked, nia- 
nufcrlpts collated, parallel places compared, hiftory, geography, 


crlticifm alternately called in to affiftance : and happy was the man 
who, after a length of time, and with immenfe labour, could fill 
up the fmallefl; chafm ; detedl the moft infignificant interpolation ; 
redlify a fmgle tranfpofition ; alter a fingle fentence, or change a 
fingle letter to the improvement of his favourite author. This fort 
of labour gave celebrity, during the two laft centuries, to many 
perfons of real genius and learning; and although, in thefe days of 
pretended refinement and philofophy, we are too apt to call them 
pedants, and to depretiate their fludies ; yet to them we certainly 
owe a great part of the pleafure which we find in perufing the works 
of antiquity. 

But why were not the fame pains taken, and the fame means 
employed, to give a corredl edition of the Bible ? and how is it, 
that, of all edited books, it flill remains the moll incorred that ever 
came from the prefs ? Was it accounted of lefs importance than 
the refl ? Not fo : both Jews and Chriflians, the orthodox and the 
feparatift, equally confldered it as the richefl treafure they could 
polfefs ; as a code of laws and a fyflem of morality delivered to them 
from Heaven ; the objedl of their belief and the rule of their con- 
dud ; in fhort, the Book of books ; compared with which, all other 
compofitions are trifling and vain. 

Were the editors, then, ignorant or carelefs ? Quite the contrary : 
many of them were men of uncommon erudition ; and all of them 
boafted of the incredible pains they had been at, to give to their 

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feveral editions, as great a degree of perfedlion, as can be attained 
by human induflry. This was their uniform language, from Bom- 
berg to Vanderhooght ; and it muft be allowed that, in fome re- 
fpedls, their diligence was, at lead, equal to their learning. 

Had they exerted the fame talents, and taken the fame pains to 
corre(5l the text, by fuch helps as yet remained; as they employed 
to prefcrve and embellifh it, in its flate of depravation ; we might 
have, long fmce, been in the poffelTion of a copy of the Hebrew 
Scriptures, as nearly perfedl as, at this diftance of time, we can 
reafonably look for ; and freed, at lead, from innumerable imper- 
fe^lions that ftill difgrace it: but the more thofe men laboured, the 
lefs they may be faid to have advanced ; and we fcruple not to ajffirm 
that the celebrated edition of Amflerdam in 1705, is a lefs valuable 
copy of the primitive Hebrew text, than that which was printed at 
Soncino, nearly 300 years ago *. 

It could not, indeed, well be otherwife. The editors, or at leaft 
the corredlors of the prefs, were generally Jews ; entirely devoted to 
their rabbinical prejudices. By thefe they appretiated the manu- 
fcript that was to ferve as an archetype for the impreffion. The 
Mafora was to thofe text-torturers the bed of Procruftes, to the exadt 
length and breadth of which every word was to be fitted with the 
greatefl precifion; and, this pretended ftandard being once eftabliCh- 
ed as infallible, all pofterior editions were judged to be accurate 

• In 1488. Sec Fabricy Titres Primtifi. 


or erroneous, only as far as they agreed or difagreed with it. 

To fome it may feem hard to conceive, how the learned of the 
Chriftian perfualion fhould have adopted the fame ideas; and, in this 
point, given implicit credit to a fet of men, whom, in almoft every 
other refpedl, they believed to be the vileft impoftors. Several caufes, 
however, concurred to beget and propagate this grofs delufion. 

The (ludy of Hebrew, which had been but little cultivated among 
Chriflians, even in the brighteft periods of Chriftianity, had now for 
many ages been almoft totally neglecfled. The firll teachers of it, on 
the revival of letters, were Jews, or converts from Judaifm. Thefe 
failed not to imprefs upon the minds of their too credulous dif- 
ciples the higheft ideas of the learning of the Maforetes, and of 
their fcrupulous attention to preferve the facred records from every 
fhadow of error, by means of a certain canon of divine origin, 
traditionally handed down to them from their great law-giver Mo- 
fes; or, at lead, from the prophet Ezra. Independent of this canon 
the fcriptures were, they affirmed, a locked-up treafiire. The Ma- 
fora was both a key to open, and a hedge to guard them : the very 
grammar of the language in which they were written could not be 
learned without it. 

The fcholars of thofe pedagogues became pedagogues in their 
turn ; and as we are ever apt to think that method of attaining 
fcience the beft, which we have followed, efpecially if it has been 
a painful one, they inculcated to their pupils the abfolute neceffity 


of purfuing the fame rugged and thorny path, which they had 
themfelves purfued before, as the only one that could lead, dlredlly 
and infallibly, to the fandluary of holy writ. Thus, with the 
firft elements of Hebrew learning, were propagated in the Chriftian 
fchools the moft ridiculous notions of the Rabbins ; and no one 
called in queftion their bold aflertions, becaufe no one fuppofed he 
could know any thing of the matter, but through them *. 

Befides, it was a flattering confideration to thofe who believed 
the Bible to be from God, to think that God had provided for it a 
perpetual fafeguard, which fliould fecure every word, fyllable, let- 
ter, and apex from all forts of corruption or alteration, to the end of 
time. They did not think of enquiring how this fame fecurity 
had, for fo many ages, been itfelf fecured ; nor did they reflect, 
that, if it had ever been the intention of the Deity to preferve, in a 
miraculous manner, the primitive text of fcripture from fuch ac- 
cidental errors, as all other writings are liable to, it would have 
been more agreeable to what we know of his wifdom, to have 
made the miracle accompany the text itfelf, than, leaving the text 
to common rifks, have provided a feparate oral canon, by which it 

* Hence it foon became a fort of axiom among theologians, that a thorough knowledge 
of the Hebrew could not be acquired without the aid of the Mafora; and that none but a fkil- 
ful Maforete could give a good edition of the Bible. Thefe prepofleffions were fo deeply 
rooted, that they kept their ground for almoft three centuiies, and are not yet quite eradica- 
ted. They were adopted, in part, even by F. Simon; in other refpedls, a critic of great acu- 
men, and no way a flave to inveterate opinions. 


might, from time to time, be recflified, and which fliould have the 
wonderful privilege of being liable to no corruption ; a canon, too, 
fo prolix, fo intricate, and fo confufed as the Mafora *. 

/Nor did they call to mind, that thofe of the firfl Chriftians who 
had ftudied the Hebrew, while it was yet, in fome meafure, a liv- 
ing tongue, were totally ignorant of fuch a canon ; and knew of 
no other rules for corredling the fcriptures, but a careful collation 
of the bed manufcripts, and the ufe of a fober criticifm. They 
overlooked even the obvious argument which they might have 
drawn from a comparifon of the New Teflament, their own pecu- 
liar code, with the Old, which more particularly appertained to 
the Jews. For the former, they could not be ignorant, God had 
provided no fuch fecurity ; why fhould he have done it for the 
latter ? giving more to the figure than to the reality, and prefer- 
ring the fon of the bond woman to that of the free ? To thefe, and 
other abfurdities, connedied with this opinion, they did not at- 
tend : it was enough for them that it flattered their prejudices and 
favoured their belief : that alone was fufficient to give it a general 

It is not, however, probable that fo bafe a metal could have 
long continued to circulate, if it had not received a new degree of 

* The Englifh reader, vho wiAes to have fome idea of the Mafora, may confult Simon's 
critical hijiory of the Old Teflament, Prideaux's conneilions, or Kentiicott'j fccond dijfcrtation on the 
Jiate of the Hebrew text. 


credit from the revolution in religion that happened foon after. 
The Proteftants, on feparating from the communion of Rome, feem 
to have thought they could not get at too great a diftance *. Find- 
ing it convenient to appeal from the decifions of a living affembly 
to the dead letter of fcripture, they confidered themfelves as under 
a neceflity of maintaining, that the fcripture-text was not only in- 
corrupted, but even incorruptible ; and as the Maforetic fyftem 
favoured this hypothefis, they adopted it without hefitation, and 
If- defended it with more pertinacy than even the Jews themfelves. 

To recede from it in the fmalleft degree, was, they imagined, to 
open a door for Popery, by overturning this fundamental article of 
Proteftantifm, " That the fcripture alone is a fufficient and infal- 
" lible rule of faith." 

So generally diffufed, and fo flrongly rivetted was this prejudice, 
that when Capellus firfl ventured to unclinch it, in his Critica 
Sacra, he was accounted a fort of apoftate from the found doflrine 
of the reformed churches, and could not find a Proteftant book- 
fcllcr to print his work. And, what is flill more ilrange, when 

* Many other inftances could be given of this difpofition to run into extremes. " Some of 
«' our reformed brethren" (fays Bifhop Berkley in the charaifler of Crito) " bccaufe the Ro- 
" manifts attributed too much to the fathers, feem to have attributed too little to them, from 
" a very ufual, though no very judicious oppofition." Min. Phil. Dial. vi. Sefl. 27. — Rey- 
nolds thought it a fufficient reafon to rcje>5l altogether the ufe of the crofs, becaufe the Papifts 
had abufedlt; and fome of the Scotch Calvinifts had fuch averfion to liturgies and fet forms 
of prayer, that they would not ufe even that of our Lord. 


Dr. Kennicott, not many years ago, publifhed his excellent Differ- 
tations on the ftate of the Hebrew text, thofe were not wanting, even 
in this country, who brought the fame charges againft him as had 
been formerly brought againft Capellus ; nor did it depend on 
them, that the greateft literary undertaking of this, or indeed of 
any other age, was not quafhed in its very beginning, as hurtful to 

It cannot be denied, that the Catholic divines in general form- 
ed a founder judgment of the ftate of the Hebrew text than the 
■g-enerality of Proteftants. Whether it was always a fmcere love 
for the truth, or fometimes an exceflive partiality for the Vulgate 
veiiion, that made them fo keen and clear-fighted in difcovering 
the faults of the original, I will not take upon me to determine : 
but the fadl is certain, they generally judged rightly of the then 
ftate of the original ; and there are few palliiges of it impugned as 
erroneous by Bellarmine, Gordon *, Morinus, &c. which are not 
now acknowledged to be fo by the moft learned Proteftants. 

From this, however, it is true fome Catholic writers drew con- 
clufions, that were by no means fairly deducible. They argued, 

* James Gordon (commonly called I/unt/aeur, becaufe of the Huntly family, to diftinguifh 
him from another Jefuit of the fame name of the family of Lefmore) was one of the moft 
acute and artful adverfaries of the prefent Hebrew text. It was to oppofe his little traift D^ 
Verba Dei, that Glafllus wrote his Phiblogia Sacra. Gordon's ftile is clear and concife ; and 
his arguments generally conclufive. It muft be confefled, however, that he extols the Vul- 
gate above meafure, and advances fome unfupportable propofitions. 




that, becaufe the Hebrew text was in many places corrupted^ 
where the Vulgate was not ; therefare the Vulgate was, every where, 
preferable to the Hebrew text. The ftrange mlfconception of a 
decree of the Council of Trent gave rife, or at leaft new flrength 
to this abfurd opinion. That Synod had declared the Vulgate to 
be an authentic verlion of the Scripture, in the plain and obvious 
fenfe we fhall fee in the fequel ; yet the word authentic became a 
fubjedl of eager controverfy in the Catholic univerfities : fome af- 
firming it only meant, that the Vulgate was in general a faithful 
verfion, containing nothing contrary to faith or morality, and hav- 
ing every thing neceflary to conftitute an authentic document; 
while others contended, with more zeal than prudence, that it im- 
plied an abfolute and exclufive authenticity in the ftri(5left fenfe of 
the word ; which gave it a preference and fuperiority not only over 
all other tranflations, but alfo over the originals themfelves. It 
is to be remarked that this laft opinion was that of the moft igno- 
rant, the former that of the mod learned of the Catholic theo- 
logians; and that they, who were the foremoft in depreffing the 
Hebrew text to enhance the value of the Vulgate, were the leaft of 
all qualified to appretiate the merits of either. At prefent there 
feems to be but one opinion on this fubjedl; and that is, luckily, 
the right one. 

With regard to the ftate of the Hebrew text, there has of late 
been a wonderful revolution in the minds of men. Proteftants and 


Catholics feem to have changed fides ; and while many of the for- 
mer, in every country, find arata in it by thoufands, there are 
fome of the latter, who can hardly difcern in it any error at all. 
Thus it is, and thus it always will be, where parties are concerned. 
What is particularly relifhed by one, will, for that veiy reafon, be 
difliked by another ; and few, very few indeed, will be found, on 
either fide, to hold that golden medium, beyond which the truth is 
vainly fought for. Here the truth is, at lead fo to me it appears, 
that the original Hebrew text is neither fo very much corrupted as 
Ibme Catholics of former, and many Proteflants of latter days af- 
firm, nor yet fo void of errors as fome Catholics of this, and al- 
mofl all the Proteftants of the Lift age maintained it to be. Still, 
however, its moft ftrenuous advocates, whether Catholic or Prote- 
ftant, will now, we prefume, be obliged to confefs, that it is evi- 
dently more or lefs erroneous*; and, confequently, that it is the 

* The fticklers for the abfolute integrity of the Hebrew text have fo often changed iheir 
;ground, and aflumed fo many different pofitions, that it requires, if not great (kill, at leaft 
much patience to continue the conteft with them. Their firft grand palladium was the Ma- 
fora, under the proteiSion of which they deemed their fortrefs impregnable. Capellus did 
not, like Ulyfles, rob them of their facred guardian; he (lormed their citadel in defpite of her, 
and revealed to the wondering world her impotency to defend them. — Forced from this hold, 
they took polTeffion of another. " Let it be granted," faid they, " that the Mafora is of rab- 
" binical, not divine authority ; yet the wonderful uniformity of all the Hebrew manu- 
" fcripts, and their perfeft agreement with die printed copy is the ftrongeft evidence of the 
" integrity of the latter; and implies, if not a miraculous prefervation of the text, an atten- 
•' tion in the copyifts that borders on a miracle." This was long a c.ipital and a favourite 
argument. It was an argument founded on a matter of faft, which even Capellus did net 

B 2 


firfl duty of a tranflator to examine into, and afcertain its errors ; 
to trace them up, if poffible, to their fource; and endeavour to re- 
move them by every mean in his power. 

chufe to deny; becaiife it was aflerted with fuch confidence, and becaufe he had no dlreifl 
proofs of the contrary. In vain he attacked them with other weapons ; in vain he proved thai: 
the ancients had frequently read otherwife than we do ; in vain he fhewed that the prelent 
reading is often improbable, fometimes feemingly abfurd : flill the pretended uniformity of 
all the copies was confidered as an unfurmountable obftacle, even by many of thofe who, in 
other refpefls, acknowledged the full force of CapeUus's reafoning; and, thus, his opponents 
infultingly triumphed, under die fecurity of a mere prefumption. When, by an aiflual exami- 
nation and collation of manufcripts, they were at length driven out of this poft aUb, they 
fought fecurity for tliemfelves, by trying to make their adverfaries invidious ; and held forth 
to the public the dreadful confequences to religion, if it fhould be once allowed that the Scrip- 
tures had not come down to us in their full original purity. In this new mode of warfare, 
they employed ftratagems not much to their honour. They imputed to the defenders of the 
oppofite fyftem, views which they never dreamed of, and fentiments which they openly dif- 
avowed. The advantage that arofe from fuch difingenuous artifices, could not be of long 
duration. The difcerning public foon perceived the weaknefs of an argument merely nega- 
tive, oppofed to faifls and demonftrations ; and the popular odium, which its abettors had 
endeavoured to throw on others, was turned into a ftream of ridicule againfl themfelves. 
They now feem difpofed to give up the diVine authority of the Mafora, the miraculous pre- 
fervation of the text, and even its abfolute integrity tlirough any means whatever : but dill 
they ftrenuoufly defend the abfolute fuperiority of the prcfent printed copy, to all other co- 
pies or verfions ; and maintain, that we have no right to alter or corre<5l it, even on the autho- 
rity of manufcripts. Hear their reafon. " The firft editors of the Hebrew Bible had manu- 
"i fcripts as well as we, and probably more ancient and coneifl manufcripts tlian now exift : the 
" new critic-collators have riot yet foimd one fo correft, in the whole, as the printed copy ; 
" therefore, the printed copy is not to be correfled by manufcripts confefledly more errone- 
"■ ous than itfelf." Never was the abufe of logic carried to a greater excefs. We will grants 
what perhaps we (hould not grant, that the prefent printed text is, in the whole, more corredl 
than any fingle mamifcript : does it hence follow, that, in every particular part, it is more 
correft than all the manufcripts together; or even than fome one individual manufcript, 
fingly confidered? Had the firft editors accurately defcribcd the manufcripts they ufed, and 


All the corruptions, that get into the text of any writing,' are 
owing either to defiga or overfight. Whether or not any parts of 
the Hebrew fcriptures have been deiignedly corrupted, is a que- 
flion, that was early agitated in the Chriftian church; and, for the 
firfl four centuries, the afErmative feems to have been the pre- 
vailing opinion, among both the Greek and Latin fathers. That 
opinion, which the authority of Saint Jerom * and Saint Auguf- 
tine had, in a great meafure, rendered obfolete for many ages, has, 
in modern times, been revived and warmly defended by critics of 
the firfl abilities, and as warmly oppofedby others of equal celebrity. 

■ indicated the repofitoi ies they were to be found in ; we fhould have it in our power to compare 
tliem with the printed text, and with one another, and be able to form a better judgment, 
both of the fidelity of the editors, and of the refpedlive merit of their manufcripts ; or, if 
tliefe no more exiftcd, we fhould know, at leaft, that they are loft. As things are, the faireft 
inference we can draw, and the moft favourable judgment we can form is this, that the edi- 
tors followed the beft manufcripts they could find. But fo did all other firft editors, if they 
were not fools : yet it has never, I think, been affirmed that pofterior editions, of any other 
book but the Bible, might not, and may not ftill, be improved by a collation of more manu- 
fcripts ; fhould thefe even, taken feparately, be lefs correct and valuable than the firft that 
•were ufed. But what if I fhould aflert that there are feveral fingle manufcripts cf the He- 
hrtvf fcriptures ; any one of which is a more correft copy of the original, than die printed 
one ? what method would tliey take to redargue my affertion ; and by what criterion could 
the queftion between us be rationally decided ? By none other, I prefume, than analogy and 
circumftantial evidence, examined at the bar of found and fober cricicifm. 

• This father is not always confiftent with himfelf. Sometimes he pofitively charges the 
Jews with having wilfully corrupted the text; at other times, he feems to exculpate them of 
this grievous accufation. We will not fay, with Simon, that when he accufes them he fpeaki 
againft his own fentiments ; but rather fuppofe, that he aftervrards changed them, as many 
other honeft men have done. 


There is this obfervable difference, however, in their refpecfkive 
modes of reafoning. The former fupport their fentiment by po- 
fitive arguments and indifputable fadls ; whereas the latter ground 
theirs, chiefly, on negative improbabilities, and the dangerous con- 
fequences which flow, they pretend, from the oppofite hypothefis. 
I fhall have occalion, elfewhere, to treat largely on this fubjedl : at 
prefent I fhall only fay that the truth ftill appears to be in the 
middle. For although we fliould not, perhaps, eafily admit that 
fo many paffages have been delignedly. corrupted, as a certain clafs 
of writers would have us believe ; yet it cannot, I think, be well 
denied, that there are, in fome infliances, fuch ftrong marks of wil- 
ful contamination, as to leave little room for doubt. 

But by far the greater part of Biblical corruptions, are to be 
afcribed to the fame ordinary caufes, that produce them in all 
other writings ; the ignorance, the careleflnefs, the inaccuracy of 
copyiflis ; and as the number of fuch corruptions, in any writing, 
is generally in proportion to the number of years it has exifled, 
and the number of times it has been copied; is it to be wondered 
that the Hebrew text of the Bible fliould, at this day, contain a 
very great number of fuch corruptions ? It would be a wonder in- 
deed, if it did not: for how could it be, with any fliew of reafon, 
imagined, that a book fo old as the Bible; written in a language, 
that has long fmce ceafed to be vernacular; tranfcribed by fo many 
different perfons, in fo many different places ; and under fo many 


different circumftances and fituations; through all that viclffitude of 
fortune, that has attended the Jewilh people; Ihould have contrac- 
ted no fpot nor blemifh, in the courfe of two thoufand years ? That 
waters, which have rolled for ages through a thoufand different 
foils and channels, fhould be ftill as pure and untainted as when 
they iflued from their primitive fburce, would he far lefs wonder- 
ful, than that the Hebrew fcriptures fliould have remained in their 
firft integrity. 

Befide thefe clrcumflantial and extraneous caufes of miftake, 
that are more or lefs common to them with all old writings, there 
are others which make the Hebrew fcriptures particularly liable to 
chirographical errors ; and which may be called intrinfic fources 
of corruption. At one period, the whole text was changed from 
the Hebrew to the Chaldee charaders *. Many of the letters in 
both alphabets have a ftrong refemblance to one another ; and, in, 
fome of them, the diacritic marks are hardly diftinguifhable. The 
invention of vowel-points, by rendering the genuine vocal elements 
quiefcent, gave frequently occafion to throw them out as ufclefs ; 
and that very thing, which was abfurdly looked upon as the chief 
prefervative of the facred text from future errors, largely contribu- 
ted to make it ftill more erroneous. 

If, with all this, we take into confideration the colloquial tauto- 

* This at lead is the common belief j and the arguments that have been urged againft it, 
appear not fufl&cient to overturn it. 


logy of the Scripture flile, the frequent occuiTence of the fame words 
and phrafes, the repetition of the fame or nearly the fame fentences, 
the proximity and contiguity of the fame terminations, the conilant 
return of the fame particles, pronouns and proper names, and the 
deceptions continually arifing from the afFociation of ideas, fimila- 
rity of founds and equivalence of meaning, we fliall be obliged to 
-confefs that it was fcarcely pofllble for the moft diligent and atten- 
tive tranfcriber to avoid committing many overfights. 

Tliat many fuch overfights have been adually committed, and 
-that a great number of corruptions have, by that means, gradually 
crept into the text, are pofitions which have, of late, been fo invin- 
cibly eftabliflied, that no one, we truft, will in future prefume to 
call them in queflion. But let not this alarm the pious reader, as 
if the authenticity of the Scriptures were thereby weakened, or their 
authority rendered precarious. Were it neceffary, to conflitute an 
authentic deed, that the moft recent and remote copies of it fliould 
be exacftly the fame with the firfh autograph, there would be no fuch 
thing in the world as any ancient authentic deed, of which the 
autograph had been loft : there could be no fuch thing, without a 
continual miracle. It is enough, that there is fufficient evidence of 
its being eflentially the fame with the original ; and that the changes 
it has undergone, whether from defign or accident, are not fuch as 
can afFe(5l its authority, as a genuine record. 

Such, precifely, is the cafe of the Hebrew fcriptures. Notwith- 


ftanding all the various corruptions of whatfoever fort, that now 
disfigure them; it is as certain, as any pofition of this kind can 
poflibly be, that they are ftill eflentially the fame; and that the 
whole hiftorical tenor of the divine oeconomy towards man has 
been preferved in them, without any important alteration, to the 
prefent time. Take the mofl modern and moft; imperfe6l tranfcript 
of their originals, that now exifhs; or even the moft erroneous copy 
of the moft erroneous verlion, that ever was made from them ; and 
you fliall find in it every thing that is abfolutely necelTary to confti- 
tute an authentic writing ; and to anfwer all the great purpofes, 
for which they were intended *. 

* From this acknowledgement, made by all thofe who have been the foremoft to dete(ft 
flie corruptions of the Hebrew text, fome perfons have drawn this ridiculous conclufion ; 
That therefore unneceflary, nay unexpedient, to correft it at all. Since it is allowed, fay 
they, to be ftill eflentially the fame, and to contain every thing neceiTary to falvation, what 
need is there to trouble the peace of the world with collations, amendments, &c ? The a- 
nonymous French author of a feries of petulant and declamatory letters, addrefled to Dr. 
Kennicott, urges this argument in the following extraordinary manner: " If the great ar- 
" tides of the Chriftian faith are untouched in the text which we already have, why diflurb 
" the church with correftions and innovations that are of no fervice to religion? VlTiat ad- 
" vantage will accrue to Chriflians from knowing, that yacob is written fometimes with a van 
" and fometimes without a zau? Or that in the word David there was nojoJ before the Ba- 
" bylonilh captivity? Is the incarnation of Jefus Chrift the lefs true for that, &c." No; nor 
v;oald it be lefs true, if the entire book of Job or the Song of Solomon were wanting. The 
chain of religion would be uninterrupted without either, yet we fhould be exceedingly forry 
they were loft. We can make a fhift to do without the original text of Ecclefiafticus ; al- 
though it is devoutly to be wilhcd that it flill exifted. There were once many pieces of He- 
brew fcripture, of which we have not now even a tranflation: will it be faid that, becaufe 
the incarnation of Chrift can be afcertained without their aid, it would be of no utilitv to 


For befide the internal marks of genuinenefs, which they fuper- 
eminently pofTefs ; they are fupported by fuch a continued and 
clofely connected chain of external evidence, as is not to be met 
with in favour of any other compofition whatever. Who, but the 
paradoxical Hardouin, ever doubted of the authenticity of Plato's 
dialogues, or Demofthenes's orations ? yet they have come down, 
to us with not half the number of vouchers, that accompany the 
Jewilh writings ; and it would be eafier to find ingenious argu- 
ments to prove that thofe were invented by the monks in the thir- 
teenth century, than that thefe were fabricated at any particular period-. 

It is true they have been tranfmitted with many errors, and are 
at this day extremely incorredl : but, here again, they have an ad- 
vantage over mofl other writings ; the means of correding them are. 
more obvious and abundant. What thefe are, and how they are 
to be employed, it is now time to enquire. 

The firft fource of emendation of any writing is the collatioa 
and comparifon of manufcripts ; a fource but recently opened with 
refpefl to the Hebrew fcriptures; and not yet fo deeply explored, 
as we hope it will foon be. 

religion, that they could ftill be recovered? Every thing mufl be of utility to religion tjiat 
tends to corroborate the great charters on which it is grounded, or to reftore them to their 
original purity, were it but the addition or retrenchment of a fingle letter. For the red, there 
are few of the amendments propofed to be made in the Hebrew text from the collation of 
manufcripts, of fo very little importance, as thofc which this flippaijt fuperficial writer has 
feleiSed for theobjedl of his unfeafonable gibes. 


Hebrew manufcripts are of two forts, the one written in the old 
or Samaritan, the other in the new or Chaldee characters. Thefe 
are two collateral branches from the fame flem; two copies of the 
fame original inftrument, under the guardianfhip of two different 
peoples*, jealous of one another, abominating one another; and, 
therefore, altogether unlikely to enter into any collufion. Yet, as both 
copies were the fame at the beginning, they ilill remain fo in all 
effentials ; and reciprocally vouch for one another's authenticity. 
It was the faying of St. Aug-Cifline, that the Jews, through a parti- 
cular difpenfation of Providence, were the Chriftians book-keepers. 
In like manner, the Samaritans may be faid to have been book- 
keepers to the Jews; and I will venture to atErm, that they have 
been the bed keepers of the two. The Samaritan fcriptui-e, as far 
as it goes, (for it contains only the Pentateuch) muft appear to e- 
very one, who examines it with any degree of attention, and void 
of rabbinical prepoffeifions, a far more faithful reprefentative of 
the prototype, than any Maforetic copy, at this day extant. 

It is, iiadeed, only of late, that we knew the full value of this 
long latent treafure. The firft edition of it was publiflied by Mo- 
rinus, in the Paris polyglott, in the year 1645; and only from one 
manufcript. The variations of that manufcript, from the prefent 
Hebrew text, were reprinted more accurately, by Houbigant, in 

* I have ventured, after B. Lowth, to ufc the plural of this word; which in feme cafes 
feems to be neceflkry, and is perfeiflly analogous. 

C 2 


1753' Since that time, feventeen other manufcripts have been 
collated, either in the whole, or in feledl paffages ; by the aid of 
which, the greateft part of the errors, that are in the firft printed 
copy, may be correded; and the futile objedlions of Hottinger and 
his followers effedlually obviated. 

Although the Jewifli manufcripts are of lefs utility, in refloring 
the true text, than the Samaritan ; having been all written pofteri- 
orly to the introdudlion of the Mafora ; and, for the moft part, re- 
modelled by the fame examplar of it ; yet they afford many impor- 
tant readings, with regard to the fenfe; and of grammatical correc- 
tions a number almoft infinite. Tliis laft advantage alone defer- 
ved all the labour and expence that have been beftowed in collating 
them; and the world is principally indebted to the liberality of this 
nation, and to the indefatigable perfeverance of the late Dr. Kenni- 
cott for fo ufeful a work. The prejudices at firft ralfed againft it, 
by ignorance or miftaken zeal, are daily dying away ; and its value 
muft rife, in the eftimation of the learned, in proportion as it is 
known and examined. 

Notwithftanding Dr. Kennlcott's various readings were colleded- 
from upwards of fix hundred manufcripts, and all the printed co- 
pies he could procure, yet the harveft is far from being over. A 
very large fupplement is promlfed by De Roffi of Parma *, from 

* The firft volume was publidied laft year, 1784; and, befides a very fenfible preface, 
canons and chi-jh, contains various readings on the three firft books of Mofes. The ftcond 
volume will be publiflied in tlie courfe of the prefent year. 


more than four hundred manufcripts, fome of which are faid to be 
of the feventh or eighth century ; as well as from a confiderable 
number of rare and unnoted editions : and, no doubt, there will 
be ftill plentiful gleanings, even after De Roffi; efpecially, if ever 
the repofitories of the Eaft happen to be freely opened, and men of 
learning and enterprize be found to avail themfelves of the occafion. 
Meanwhile, let us be heartily thankful for the riches we already 
pofTefs, and employ them to the beft advantage. 

A-kin to the various readings of Hebrew manufcripts, and of 
much the fame utility in correcting the Hebrew text, are the pa- 
rallel places of the text itfelf ; and the quotations made from it at 
different times, whether by Jewifli or Chriflian writers *. 

By parallel places, we mean thofe pafFages of Scripture, in which 
the fame precept is reiterated ; the fame hiftorical fa(ft repeated ; or 
the fame canticle, pfalm or prophecy, entirely or partially reinferted. 
When, in any of thefe cafes, there is a manlfeft contradidion, or 
glaring inconfiftency, between the two palTages, we may conclude, 
that one of them, at leaft, is corrupted; and it is the province of 
criticifm to determine, from circumflances, where the error and 
where the truth lies. Examples, not a few, may be feen in Hou- 
bigant, Kennicott, Starck, &c. 

With regard to quotations ; if we were fure^ that they had aj- 

* We fpeak here only of fuch quotations as have been made from the original, whetber 
exhibited in Hebrew charaders, or in thofe of any othtr language. 


'ways been extraded from books, they might be confidered as fo 
many various readings, of equal eftimation with thofe found in 
manufcripts of the fame antiquity ; but it may be fufpedled that 
they were, fometimes made from memory; and, therefore, they 
are to be examined with care, and adopted with caution. It can- 
not, however, be denied that they are frequently of ufe in reftor- 
ing the true reading ; and it were to be wilhed that a ftill more 
ample colledlion were made of them than has yet been done *. 

Another moft copious fource of emendation of the Hebrew text, 
are the tranflations that have been made of it, at different periods, 
and in different languages ; which, while they ferve, in general, to 
evidence its authenticity, enable us, at the fame time, to corredl, 
or even reflore many particular paffages, that are now either en- 
tirely loft or ftrangely corrupted: an advantage v/hich belongs not, 
in the fame degree, to any other ancient writing. 

To illuftrate this by an example — It is w^ell known, that Lon- 
ginus's celebrated treatife on the fublime has come down to us er- 
roneous and imperfecl. But if it had been accurately tranflated in- 
to Latin, while it was yet intire and uncorrupted ; and if many 

* The various readings in the Talmud and other rabbinical writings were coUe<fled with 
great care by Gill, and inferted in Dr. Kennicott's Bible. Montfaucon had, long before, ga- 
thered what fcattered fragments of this nature he could find among the Greek and Latin fa- 
tliers, or in the margin of manufcript Bibles; and publifhed them in his Hexapla in 17 13. 
To thcfe feme additions were made by Bahrdt in 1769; and many more might ftill be 
made, if fome new Montfaucon would arife, to ranfack old parchments with the fame induf- 
try and judgment. 


ancient copies of that tranflation yet remained, it would be no dif- 
ficult matter to reftore by them, in a great meafure, the true fenfe, 
if not always the very terms of the text of Longinus. Let us, now, 
fuppofe that, inftead of one Latin tranflation, we had three or four; 
and as many more in Greek, different only in dialecl from that of 
the original; and that all thofe verlions were not only accurate and 
faithful, but ftridlly and even fervilely literal ; in fuch a cafe, every 
one mufl be fenfiblc, that it would be hard to avoid hitting upon 
the true text of the author*. That this cafe is fully applicable to 
the text of the Hebrew fcriptures will appear from the following 
concife account of the principal ancient verlions. 

The firft of thefe, both in time and dignity, is that which we 
call the Septuagint or LXX. (it fhould beLXXII.) from the num- 
ber of perfons, who, according to fome of the too credulous an- 
cients, were employed in making it. The mofl judicious critics 
now laugh, with St. Jerom, at the fible of Arifteas; yet they are 
not agreed among themfelves, about many queftions relative to this 
famous verfion. Without entering, at prefent, into a difcuffion of 
thofe knotty points, I fliall only fay, ia very few word,s, what ap- 
pears to me certain, or moft probable. 

* The works of Ariftotle are much in the fame predicament with thofe of Longinus. 
The bed Greek editions of them are extremely imperfeft, for want of good manufcripts. 
But, if we could recover compleat copies of the Syriac and Arabic verfions, which we know 
were made of them from the originals, it is not to be doubted that many of the erroneovts 
and obfcure paflages of tliat ufcful author, would thereby be corresfled or illuftrated. See E, 
Lowth's preface to Ifaiah. 


FIrft then, That the Greek verfion, called the Septuaghit, is not 
all the work of the fame tranflator or tranflators, is manifeft, from 
the very great diverfity of flile and the various modes of tranllating, 
that prevail in it. The arguments from authority, produced in 
fupport of the contrary opinion, need no other refutation, than a 
bare infpedion of the books themfelves : for who, that has ever 
looked into them, will venture to affirm, that the Pentateuch, Ec- 
clefiaftes, Amos, and Jeremiah were tranflated by the fame perfons ? 
Not to mention that the moft unexceptionable authorities, thofe of 
Jofephus and Philo, are on the other fide. 

Secondly, The Pentateuch, or five books of Mofes, called em- 
phatically the Law, feems to have been tranflated in the reign, 
and, probably, at the requefl of Ptolomy Philadelphus, by certain 
Jews of Alexandria; affifled, perhaps, by fome of their brethren 
from Palefline. 

Thirdly, The other books were all tranflated between that period 
and the birth of Chi'ifl; or, at leaft, foon after: but where, by whom, 
or at what particular aera, we can, for the moft part, form only 
vague conjectures. 

At whatever time, or by whatever perfons the Greek verfion was 
compleated, it was certainly of great authority among the Helle- 
nift Jews, and, for a time, read in their fynagogues inftead of the 
Hebrew. To give it the higher degree of credit, and to juflify an 
innovation which was not approved of by fome of their brethren.. 


the ridiculous tale of the feventy cells, &c. feems to have been in- 
vented. The Chriftians, who have, in all ages, been more or lefs 
the dupes of Rabbinifm, readily believed the ill-contrived ftory ; and 
thence concluding, that the tranllators were infpired perfons, con- 
fidered their work not as a mere verfion, but as a fecond divine 
original *. 

It was early tranflated into Latin, and became the text-book of 
the Weflern, as well as of the Eaflern churches. It was the only 
copy of the Scripture they generally ufed ; and the only one they 
appealed to in all their controverfies. They particularly, and moft 
advantageoufly employed it in confuting the Jews themfelves, from 
whom they had received it ; proving to them from it, by the moft 
irrefragable arguments, that their expecfled Meflias muft have al- 
ready come, in the perfon of Jefus Chrift. 

On this, even the Hellenift Jews began to entertain an unfa- 
vourable idea of it ; and, at length, had it in fuch abhorrence, that 
a national fall was inftituted to deplore the fame event (the anniver- 
fary of its being tranflated) which they had before commemorated 
by a folemn feftival. Whether this fudden change in their minds 
was altogether owing to the above circumftance, and their deeply- 
rooted hatred to the Chrifllans ; or whether it might not partly a- 
rife from the real differences, that were now found (no matter how 

* Tliis opinion was the prevailing one as late as the fifth century, and St. Jerom gave 
great offence by calling it in queftion. 



they had come there) between it and the Hebrew text; or whether^ 
in fine, the Chriftians, on their part, had, through a miftaken zeal, 
made fome Uttlc alterations in it, to make it fpeak more expUcitly 
the language of Chriflianity *, it is hard, at this day, to determine: 
but the fadl is indlfputable; and, even before the end of the firft 
century, the Septuagint verfion was depreciated by every Jcwifh 
writer, and expelled from every fynagogue. 

It was to fupply its place, that Aquila of Pontus, fird a convert 
from Paganifm to Chriflianity and then a profelyte to Judaifm, un- 
dertook a new Greek verfion of the Bible for his new brethren. It 
appeared about the year 1 29, and was fo well received by the Jews,, 
that he was encouraged to give, foon after, a more correct edition 
of it, accompanied with a commentary, that rendered it ftill more 
palatable to them. On the other hand, the Chriftians reprobated 
it as a dangerous and difingenuous attempt to overthrow the au- 
thority of the Septuagint, and charged him w4th having wilfully 
corrupted, or miftranflated, even his ow^n originals. The charac- 
ter given of him by St. Jerom, in whofe time his verfion was ex- 
tant, is not always the fame. Sometimes f he calls him a conten- 
tious and captious interpreter, who affecfls to weigh words and fyl- 
lables, and crowds his tranflation with unheard-of folecifms: at 
other times, X ^^ praifes his diligence and exadlitude ; denies that 

• Of this I think there is at leaft one example preferved by St. Jero:ii. Commtnt. in Habbacuc. 
j- Ep. ad Pammach. X F-p. ad Damafum. 


he is Co captious as he is called; and makes ho fcruple to prefer him 
to all other tranflators. To judge from the fragments that now 
remain, the firfl of thefe opinions is evidently the right one. He 
is an uncouth, barbarous writer, the Arias Montanus or Malven- 
da of his day ; who feems to have purpofely chofen that fervilc 
mode of tranflating, to hide the malevolence of his views, and to 
make his flricl adherence to the letter of the Hebrew a plaufiblc 
pretext, for deviating fo widely from the old verfion. We regret, 
however, that his tranflation is loft, as it would have been fingu- 
larly ufeful both for difcovering the (late of the Hebrew text at that 
time, and giving us the literal meaning and etymology of many 
words, the lignification of which it is now difficult to afcertain ; 
although, independently of thefe confiderations, it was hardly worth 
the faving*. 

Perhaps the Jews themfelves were fenfible of the too great fer- 
vility, and confequent obfcurity, of AquiLVs verfion; and there- 
fore wiflied to have another, that fhould be equally favourable to 
their prejudices, without being fo unintelligible and difgufting. 
This, we may fuppofe, produced the tranflation of Theodotion, 

* The lofs of this verfion was chiefly owing to a caufe that feemed rather calculated to pre- 
ferve it. The Emperor Juftinian, on forbidding the Talmud, now become the favourite- 
book of the Jews, gave them full leave to ufe the verfion of Aquila, which they had formerly 
extolled as a faithful and accurate tranflation: but a fort of obftinacy, not entirely peculiar to 
Jews, urged them not only to rejeft with contempt what was thus freely offered to them; but 
even, probably, to dellroy all the copies they could find of it; and which were moftly in their 
own polTeffion. 

D 2 


which he publifhed about the year 184. This writer, who had 
been firfl a difciple of Tatian, then a Marcionlte, and laftly a Jew, 
retained as much of the old Alexandrian verfion, as he faw for his. 
purpofej and only altered, added, or retrenched, where he found- 
it differ from fuch Hebrew manufcripts, as the Jews put into his 
hands. This was a fly device, and operated according to his wilh. 
The Jews were well pleafed with his verfion, becaufe it was con- 
formable to their ideas ; and the Chriflians were not offended, be- 
caufe it fo much refembled the Septuagint, In many particular 
paffages, and in one whole book *, they preferred it to the Septu- 
agint itfelf ; efpeclally after Origen had made ufe of it to corredl. 
the fuppofed faults of the latter ; in order to make it tally with, 
what he thought, the Hebreiv verity. Hence it is, that much 
more of this verfion has been preferved, than of Aquila's. 

Towards the end of the fame century, or early in the next, ap- 
peared another Greek tranflation, lefs literal and infinitely more 
elegant, than either of the foregoing ones. It was the work of 
Symmachus; who, if we may believe Eufebius, from being a Sa- 
maritan, became a Jewj from being a Jew, a Chriftian; and from 
being a Chriflian, an Ebionite. In this lafl communion, and for 
the ufe of its members, he compofed his work, which he afterwards 
fcems to have remodelled, in a fecond edition. The verfion of Symma- 
chus is, often and defervedly, praifed by Eufebius and St. Jerom ; 

* Daniel. 


and the latter feems to have made it, in a great meafure, the pattern 
of his Latin tranllation. It was, indeed, remarkable for its perfpi- 
Guity and propriety, as well as elegance; and no good reafon can be 
affigned for its not having been more generally adopted, but that 
its author belonged to a fecft, who were equally hateful to both Jews 
and Chriftians. Many excellent works have perifhed from a fimi-p 
lar caufe. 

Belides thefe Greek verfions of the Old Tellament, there are 
three others mentioned by the ancient fathers ; called the fifth, 
fixth, and fcventh; becaufe their refpec^ive authors or editors are 
not known. They feem to have comprehended only, or chiefly, 
the poetical books of Scripture. Whether they were made by 
Jews or Chriftians, it is hard to fay ; although the fixth bears 
ftrong marks of Chriftian extradlion ; or, perhaps, it was only an 
interpolated edition of the Septuagint *. 

However that be, it is certain that all thofe verfions were col- 
lecfled by the indefatigable Origen, and placed, together with the 
Septuagint and original Hebrew text, in his famous Hexapla: and 
this, perhaps, is the laft entire copy of them that ever was made. 
For the Talmudifts having gradually excluded all Greek verfions 
from the fynagogues, and the Chriftians univerfally adhering to- 
the old tranflation, the reft were either totally neglected ; or only 
fuch parts of them copied into the margents of Bibles and com- 

* This may, one day, be the fubjcift of a particular difcufllon. 


mentaries, as were deemed the moft worthy of attention*. Thus 
it was that the Septuagint verfion triumphed, at length, over all 
its rivals, and remahied, for feveral ages after, the fole Scripture 
ftandard in all the Chriftian churches f. 

We are not, however, to imagine, that it was exadlly the fame 
in every church, or that any church poffeired a copy of it that was 
perfedlly corredl ; much lefs, that any fuch copy now exifts. It 
had contracted many blemifhes in the days of Origen ; and it was 
principally with a view to remove them, that he defigned and exe- 
cuted the moft celebrated of all his works. No man could be bet- 
ter qualified for fuch an undertaking ; to a ftrong conftitution, a 
clear head and a moft prodigious memory, he had joined an im- 
menfe and univerfal erudition, by the moft aftiduous and inceflant 
application that, perhaps, ever was made. His infatiable thirft 
for learning made him pry into every corner, for rare and curious 
books ; and the liberality of his rich friends put it in his power to 
pur chafe them. 

With all thefe advantages, he begun, about the year 231, to 
■compile his Tetrapla; which contained, in fo many feparate co- 

* Of all fuch fragments Montfaitcon compofed his Hexapla; a book indifpenfibly neceflUry 
to every Biblical ftudent ; and of which a new and more compleat edition is greatly wanted. 

f The reader who wilhes to form a proper idea of the Septuagint verfion, will do well to 
confult Hody Je itxtiiui originalibtis, &c. Voffius de 70 interpretibui, Grabe's Prolegomena to his 
edition of the Alexandrian manufcript, and De variis vitii;, &c. Father Simon's Critical hijloiy 
of the OldTeJianierit, Fabricy's Titres frifnitifs, and Dodor Owen's excellent DiJ/irtation pnh- 
Jiflied a few years ago. 


lumns, and in the following order, the four Greek verfions of 
Aquila, Symmachus, the Septuagint and Theodotion. It would 
have been well, perhaps, if he had contented himfelf with this firfl 
laborious compilation; which was alone fufBcient to immortalize 
his name, and would have been much more eafily handed down to 
poflerity, than the great and over- grown work that fuperfeded it. 
It would have been even more ufeful ; for as yet he had not aflum- 
ed the province of corredlng the text of the Septuagint; but had 
given it, jufl as he found it, from the beft manufcripts he could 

But the very coniiderable differences, which he could not but 
obferve, between it and the three other veriions, fo lately made 
from the originals, and fo nearly agreeing with one another, made 
him fufpecl that it was much more erroneous than he had formerly 
thought it; and fet him on meditating a work that fliould, both 
by its magnitude and importance, totally ecllpfe the former one. 
This produced, in fucceflion, the Hexapla, O^apla and EnneapJaj 
fo denominated from the number of columns, that each contain- 
ed. In the Enneapla, which had nine columns, the three lafl con- 
tained the three anonymous Greek verfions before-mentioned ; the 
four, immediately preceding them, were the fame with thofe of 
the Tetrapla ; and, in the two firfl, flood the original text in Hebrew 
letters, with its pronounciation by its fide in Greek characflers : 
both, fuch as he received them from the Jews : for his knowledge 


of the Hebrew was, by far, too fcanty, to enable him to do with- 
out them; and he never fulpedled, that they might, polllbly, im- 
pofeupon him; any more than St. Jerom did, afterwards, on a hke 

Emboldened by his new guides, he ventured now to JlaJJj ivith 
his defperate hook the venerable texture of the old verfion ; and to 
patch and piece it, with the more recent manufacflure of Theodo- 
tion, much in the fame manner as Clarius and fome other mo- 
derns have patched the Vulgate *. This had bad confequences. 
The great authority of Origen made every one, who was pofTefled 
of a Greek Bible, revife his copy by the Hexaplar flandard ; and, in 
a fhort time, no manufcript, that was not bridled over with afte- 
rifks and obelifks, lemnifks and hypolemniflcs, was accounted of 
any value. 

If the autograph of Origen ftill remained, or if the art of print- 
ing had then exifted, to circulate at once a great number of accu- 
rate copies, we fhould have lefs reafon to complain of the confu- 
lion that thence enfucd. His dlflingufliing marks, without adulte- 
rating the Septuagint, would have indicated the then flate of the 
Hebrew text, and put it in our power, even at this day, to appreti- 
ate both f: whereas, through the carelefsnefs of ignorant tranfcri- 

* SeJ, qnod majoris audaciae eft, in editione Septuaginti Theodotionls editioncm mijcuit. Hieron. 
praef. in Paralip. 

f El base quidcm Jlgiia, Ji Jliidiofe fimper a libraiiis ferv at ii^effent in manufcriptis , non exiguum 
inde fruflum caperet Critica fucra; at mox, pro lihrariorum focordia it negUgentia^ omijfa funt; unde 
maxima in libris Graecis orta ifl confiijio. Starck, Davidis Cann. vol. i. p. IJ2. 


bers, or the caprice of future corredtors, the diforder grew everv 
day greater and greater; until, at length, it became irremediable. 

For other perfons, lefs capable than Origen or his editors Pam- 
phllus and Eufebius, fet about corralling the common * copies, 
after their example. The principal of thefe were Lucianus and 
Hefychius, whofe authority, whatever might be their abilities, vied 
almoft equally with Origen's. The exemplar corredled by Luci- 
anus was ufed in all the churches from Antioch to Conftantinople. 
At Alexandria, and all over Egypt, the corrections of Hefychius 
were adopted ; while the Chriflians of Paleftine ftuck tenacioufly to 
the Pamphilian copy of the Hexapla f ; which, in the end, feems 
to have generally prevailed through all the Eaft. 

From which of thofe copies, or editions, the particular manu- 
fcripts, now extant in different parts of the world, are derived ; 
and what manufcript deviates leafl; from the old original verfion, 
it is impoffible to determine, or even to guefs, until the manufcripts 
themfelves be collated and compared. This is, at prefent, the 
greatefl defideratum in facred philology; and had the Author of this 
Profpetflus a fortune fufficient to travel for that purpofe, he would 
think it well employed, were it equal to that of Croefus: nor flioultl 
his prefent undertaking, great as it is, prevent him from execut- 

* The uncorrefted edition of the Septuagint was, after the days of Origen, known by the 
name oi common, xoivh as we call, now, the Latin verfion cf Jerom, the Vulgate. 
f Hieron. ad Chromat. cvli. 


ing a proje^l fo nearly connedled with it; and from which it would, 
undoubtedly, derive a greater degree of perfedlion *'. Meanwhile, 
we mufb malce the bed ufe we can of the printed editions, and of fuch 
various readings of manufcripts as we can procure : not neglecting 
even the fecondary tranilations that have any degree of antiquity "f. 

We have four different edited exemplars of the Greek verfion ; 
That of Alcala or the Compluteniian, that of Venice or the AI- 
dinc, that of Rome, and that of Oxford. 

The firft was printed in the polyglott Bible of Ximenes in the 
year 15 15, with a typothetical attention, that would put the mo ft 
.patient modern compofitor in a rage. It is accompanied with an 

* 1 have been told that a very learned gentleman of the ITniverfity of Cambrige had, feme 
time ago, expreffeJ his readinefs to undertake fuch a work, if he fliould meet with due en- 
couragement. Is it poffible that he has not, or v. ill not meet with due encouragement, in z 
country, where the moft trifling novelty draws, every feafon, from the purfes of the good 
people of England, a far greater fumthan would be adequate to the purpofe? With five thou- 
fand pounds, I would, undertake, in lefs than three years, to collate every valuable Greek 
inanufcript of the Bible in Europe. 

t Great hopes are entertained of being able, in fome meafure, to reftore Orlgen's copy of 
the Septuagint, together with tlie other Greek verfions that conipofed his Tetrapla ; by means 
of a Syriac verfion, made from them in the feventh century ; a confiderable part of which is 
preferved in the Ambrofian library at Milan. It contains the Prophets and j^giographa. 
The firftpart of tliis manufcript is, with great probability, faid to have been once in thepof- 
fcflion of Mafius ; and from it he drew his Hexaplar readings, in his commentary on Jofliua : 
batwhat Is fince become of it, no one, it feems, can tell. Even then it had been mutilated of 
the Pentateuch ; of which, however, there is an Arabic verfion, in the Bodleian library at 
Oxfoid. May we not expeifl the publication of this Pentateuch, from the zeal and abilities of 
ihe prcfcnt Arabic Profeffor ? That, wilhMr. Norberg's tranfcriptfromthe Ambrofian volume, 
would be a moft valuable prcfent to the Biblical ftudent. See Profeffor WTiite's letter to the 
Eilliop of London ; or Bp. Newcome's preface to the minor Poets. 


interlineary verbal tranflation, and Is of all the Greek editions tlie 
mofl confonant with the prefent Hebrew text. The editors boaft 
of ancient manufcripts, and ancient nianufcripts they furely had ; 
but, as they neither tell what thofe were, nor how they ufed them, 
we draw little fatisfa6lion from this general information. It is even 
juflly fufpeiled, that they did not fcrupuloufly adhere to fuch ma- 
nufcripts as they had ; but that, to make their edition correfpond, 
as nearly as pofllble, with the Hebrew and Vulgate, with which it 
was clafled in the fame page, they gleaned from every quarter a 
medley of a verfion, that was neither one thinfr nor another. It is 
aftonifliing that fuch a copy fliould have been republillied in the 
Antwerp and Paris polyglotts. 

The edition of Venice was firfl publiflied in the year i j i 8, by 
the heirs of Aldus. It was profeffedly printed from very old, but 
undefcribed manufcripts ; with which however its editors feem not 
to have taken the fame freedom, as thofe of Alcala had taken with 
theirs. It is, evidently a much purer copy of the Septuagint; al- 
though not without many foreign admixtures ; efpecially from Theo- 
dotion. It has been often reprinted, with variations and pretended 
ccrredlions ; fometimes for the worfe. The bell editions of it, be- 
£de that of Venice, are thofe of Bafil and Frankfort. 

The Roman edition, begun in the pontificate of Gregory XIII. 
and compleated in that of Sixtus V. (who while a cardinal had pref- 
(ingly urged the work) appeared in the year 1587. It was prin- 

E 2 

36 P R O S P. E C T U S. 

cipally taken from the famous Vatican manufcript; and, where it 
failed, from others of nearly the fame antiquity ; and is, by many, 
thought to be the mofl genuine copy of the old Greek verfion, that 
has yet been publiflaed. Had the learned editors been more at- 
tentive, to exhibit their prototypes exa6lly as they found them ; 
we fhould have been flill better pleafed with their labours : for it 
is now certain, that they fometimes deviated from their manu- 
fcripts; but uncertain, where and how much they deviated. It 
has been lately propofed to the prefent Pope, to have the Vatican 
iTianufcript republiflied, exadlly as it is ; and even in the fame form 
and chara<5lers ; and it is with the greateft pleafure we learn that his 
Holinefs has not only approved of the propofal, but has alfo taken 
upon himfelf the whole expence of the impreffion. This does 
great honour to Pius VI. and will contribute more to immortalize 
his memory, than any other event of his reign ; his journey to Vi- 
enna not excepted *. 

The Roman edition, together with Nobilius's Latin verfion, firft 
feparately publiilied in the. year 1588, was, by order and at the 
expence of the Galilean clergy, reprinted at Paris, under the infpec- 
tion of Morinus, in the year 1626; and again in 1641. We are 

* We are jufl now informed, but hope the information is falfe, that tliis moft laudable de- 
fign has been traverfed by the Roman inquifitors ; and that, through the councils of a Greek 
bigot, the Vatican manufcripts are, in future, to lieontlieir dufty flielves, untouched and un- 
explored. If this be true, Ghofts of Carafa, PafTionei, Spinelli, Aflcmanni, arife ! and drive 
ihefe Gotlis and Vandals from the prccinds of your old dominion. 


certainly indebted to the zeal of the French Bifliops for procuring 
fo elegant and correcl an edition of a book that had become extre- 
mely rare, and was hardly to be purchafed : but the obligation is 
coniiderabiy diminiilied, if it be true, as Serravius and others af- 
firm, that this edition prevented Ducaeus from giving the infinitely 
more ufeful one he meditated *. 

When Walton publiflied the London polyglott in the year 1657, 
he judicioufly adopted the Roman edition of the Greek verfion, 
inftead of the Complutcnfian ; and this, with other things, contri- 
buted to give his polyglott a decided fuperiority over all the reft. 
It was alfo republiflied at Francker by Bos in the year 1709, in 
one thick quarto volume; and again at Utrecht and Amfterdam 
by Millius in 172S, in two volumes, fmall oclavo, — All the other 
editions of London, Cambridge, Amfterdam, Leipfick, «Scc, are 
fpurious, and moft grofsly interpolated. 

The laft, but not the leaft important, edited exemplar of the 
Septuagint, is that which was printed from the celebrated Alexan- 
drian manufcript in the Britifli Mufaeum ; of equal antiquity 
with that of the Vatican, and, in fome refpecls, more valuable. 

• Fronto Ducaeus (Fronton le Due) a Jefuit of Bourdeaux, the moft learned editor of 
the firft Greek and Latin Chryfoftome, and one of the beft critics of his age, had planned, it 
feems, a new edition of the Septuagint; in which it was his intention to reftore, if pofilble, 
the genuine exemplar of Origen, with all its diacritic marks : but the Parifian editors of the 
Roman exemplar, alarmed at the projeft, which would in effeft have impeded the fale of their 
copies, did all they could to counteraft it, and were unluckily but too fuccefsful. The ma- 
terials which he had prepared were ordered to Rome, and have never fince been heard of. 


It was prepared for the prefs by Grabe, with a care and candor 
that have not often been equalled, never furpalled ; but which, we 
trufl, will be henceforth faithfully imitated by every editor of 
manufcripts. The firfl: and fourth volumes were, by Grabe him- 
felf, publillied at Oxford in folio and odlavo in the years i 707 and 
1 709 ; the fecond and third by Lee and Shippen, with the affiftance 
of "Bifhop Potter in 171 9 — 20. It was immediately republiflied 
atLeipfick by Reineccius, in 171 2, &c; but the rnofl commodious 
edition of it is that of Zurick, by Breitinger, in 1730. Until the 
Romans are pleafed to give us more correal copy of their manu- 
fcript, this edition muftbe our text-book of the Greek veriion ; and all 
future collations of manufcripts fliould be made relatively to it *. 
With regard to the various readings already collated, the great- 
eft part of which have been crowded together in the lower margin 
of Bos's edition, they are not implicitly to be depended on ; even 
when extratfted from printed books. In every dubious paflage, 
the editions themfelves are to be confulted, and the typographical 
errors of thefe always taken into confideration. Of manufcripts, 
indeed, few general and continued collations have yet been made. 
The variations of the very ancient Cottonian fragment, now loft, 
were carefully collated by Grabe, and accurately publillied by Dr. 

* ProfefTor "White of Oxford, fo well knowii by his elegant and affecling leftures, has in a 
letter to the Bifhop of London, in 1779, laid down fome excellent rules for having a good 
new edition of the Septuagint; a work very much wanted ; and which we wifh the learned 
profcflbr's other avocations would permit him to undertake. 


Owen in the year 1778: Dr, Kennicott had collated for his own 
ufe feveral parts of the principal manufcripts at Oxford, and of an 
old Pfakery at Eton : it is hoped they are not loft *. Mr. Woide, 
at the requeft of Bilhop Lowth, collated, through the bookof Ifaiah, 
t\Vo valuable manufcripts in the Britilh Mufaeum ; one of them, 
through Jeremiah, for Mr. Blayney ; and through the minor Pro- 
phets, for B. Newcome. The Author of this Profpedlus hopes to 
procure, both at home and abroad, fome fimilar afliftance f; and 
we expecl foon to hear of Birch and Adler having publiflied their 
copious colleclions. 

It has been faid, that we ought not to neglecft the ancient ver- 
fions, that have been made from the Septuagint. Of thefe the moft 
celebrated is the Latin Italic, which chiefly prevailed in all the 
Weftern churches during the five firft centuries. If an entire and 
nnadulterated copy of this verfion exifted, it would be little lefs 
valuable than the Septuagint itfelf. What parts of it could be 
found have been colledled by Nobilius, Blanchini and Sabbatier. 

There are alfo Syriac, Samaritan, Ethiopic, Arabic and Arme- 
nian tranflations from the Greek, partly printed, but chiefly in 

* I have, fince writing this, been affured by the Bifhop of Salifbury, to whom and the 
Dean of Chrift-church Dr. Kennicott left his papers, that no fuch coUeiflions are found 
among them. 

\ While thefe fheets are printing, I am a<5hially employed in collating a valuable and well- 
prefcrved Oftateuch, belonging to the Univerfity of Gbfgow ; a particular account of which 
(hall in due time be given to the public. 


manufcript; which have their refpeclivc ufes, towards the fame 
purpole, according to their antiquity and accuracy, and certainly 
deferve to be made known and appretiated. 

But of all the verfions made from the Septuagint the Coptic is 
by far the moft ufeful ; both becaufe it is a ftridlly verbal tranfla- 
tion, and becaufe it is of great antiquity. Wilkins publiflied the 
Pentateuch from three manufcrlpts in the year 1731. But much, 
much yet remains to be done ; and the arduous tafk feems to be 
referved for Mr. Woide. He is, perhaps, the only man in Europe, 
who is fully equal to it; and when he has compleated the fingular 
work he has now in hand *, he will, no doubt, be encouraged to 
fet about it f. 

Having faid this much on the different Greek verlions of the 
Bible :}:, and of their utility in refloring the true readings of the 
original text, we proceed to the other ancient tranflations ; at the 
head of which is to be placed the Syriac. 

That the Syrians had a verfion of the fcripture, at a very early 

* A Fac-ftmile of the New Teftament of the Alexandrian manufcript ; the moft curious 
piece of workmanfliip that ever came from the prefs, now happily compleated. 

f He has, with(.iinremitted indullry, already procured feveral Coptic fragments; and ex- 
peifls more from the friendlliip of the prelate Borgia, the prefent moft learned and amiable 
prefefl of the Propaganda; whofe zeal to difcover, and readinefs to communicate ufeful old 
writings of every kind, are perfeflly congenial to Mr. Woide's own difpofition. 

\ Mr. Vilhoifon dlfcovered lately a Greek verfion of the Bible, in St. Mark's library at Ve- 
nice, entirely diiferent from that of the Septuagint; but, as it has not yet been publilhed, 
we cannot form a proper judgment of it. It has, however, all the appearance of being a 
much more modern tranflation, than even that of Symmachus. 


period, is indifputable; although the tradition, that carries it back 
to the reign of Solomon, deferves no credit. As it is mentioned by 
the Greek writers of the fecond century, it mufl: have been then 
generally known ; and may, therefore, without temerity, be afcri- 
bed to the apoflolic age. Hence it is evident, that a genuine copy 
of it would be highly valuable ; as it would, not only point out the 
changes which the Hebrew text may have undergone, from the 
time it had been firft tranflated into Greek; but, alfo, ferve to cor- 
roborate many good readings, and corredl many bad ones, of both 
the Greek tranflation, and the Hebrew original. In this lafl refpecl, 
it would be more ufeful than any other verfion. Of all the Oriental 
dialedls, the Syriac approaches the nigheft to the Hebrew ; and the 
Syriac tranflator follows his text fo clofely and literally, that he 
may be faid to give a tranfcript, rather than a tranflation. But 
his work has had the fate of all ancient books : it has come down 
to us greatly disfigured, by the negligence of copyifts, and the au- 
dacity of pretended corredlors. It was publiflied, not very faithfully, 
by Gabriel Sionita, in the Paris polyglott, from a manufcript in the 
French king's library. The editors of the London polyglott had 
it partly corredled on three other exemplars : but it is ftill exceed- 
ingly faulty *, and a collation of it with all the manufcripts that can 
be found, and with the writings of the ancient Syriac fathers, is ex- 

* Several letters of tlie Syriac alphabet are more eafily miftaken for one another, than 
even thofe of the Hebrew; and this has been one moft fertile fource of errors. 



tremely defirable. I have hopes, that the gentlemen of the Maronite- 
college at Rome maybe prevailed upon to undertake a confiderable 
fhare of fo ufeful a work *. 

Of much the fame affinity of idiom to the Hebrew with the Sy- 
riac, are the Chaldee verfions ; made for the ufe of the Jews, after 
the Hebrew had ceafed to be a living language. Thefe are of vari- 
ous forts and different qualities, from the fervile tranflation to the 
loofeft paraphrafe; and from an almoft pure Babylonifla diale(fb to 
the moil barbarous rabbinical jargon. They are not, confequently, 
all of the fame utility : yet the very worfl of them will be found to 
have its ufe; and, even from the dunghill of the Jerufalem Targum, 
a pearl may be here and there picked up. The moft ancient and 
accurate is that of Onkelos, who tranflated only the Pentateuch. 
From a refemblance of name, he has been confounded with Aquila, 
the author of the Greek verfion. The Rabbins, indeed, will have 
their Onkelos to be much more ancient; but there is fome reafon 
CO think he muft have been of a flill latter date. Be that as it may, 
he fticks clofely to his text ; which, it is evident, could not, in ma- 
ny places, be the fame with our prefent Maforetic copies. Next 
to him in rank, but at a great diftance, (lands Jonathan with his 
Targums. The reft are an obfcure and anonymous herd ; whofeem 
to vie with one another, which fhall advance the greateft abfurdi- 

• See the note f page 34. 


ties. The leafl ridiculous among them are they, who paraphrafed 

the Pfalms and Proverbs. 

Although the Arabic verfions, at lead fuch of them as have been 

made from the Hebrew, are of a much latter period than the other 
Oriental tranflations ; and, therefore, not of the fame utility for cor- 
reifling the originals ; yet we cannot fubfcribe to the opinion of thofe, 
who think them of little or no ufe at all, for that purpofe. The 
verfion of Saadias * is as old as the tenth century ; and exhibits a 
faithful though not verbal tranflation of the Hebrew copies he worked 
tipon. I have found fome excellent readings in it; and I wonder 
that Houbigant fliould have preferred to it the novel and bar- 
barous African verfion publifhed by Erpenius. The African 
verfion, however, is not without its ufe. Being extremely literal, 
it gives us a good idea of the flate of the Hebrew text, at the time 
of its being made ; and furnifties us with many etymological helps 
to difcover the meaning of obfcure Hebrew words. But a more 
valuable Arabic verfion than cither of thefe, made from the Sama- 
ritan Pentateuch, lies yet in manufcript ; of which a fpecimen from 
the Barberini triglott was publifhed by Hwiid in the year i 780. 

* I do not here enter into a difcuffion of thofe much agitated queftlons. Whether the 
Arabic verfion in our polyglotts be a primary or a fecondary tranflation? whether Saadias- 
Gaon be the fume with Said of Fiumi? or wliether he tranflated only the Pentateuch? Thefe 
points will probably be the fubjeft of a particular differtation. It is enough for me at prefent, 
that the Arabic verfion has, partly at leaft, been certainly either made from, or retouched 
upon the originals. 

F 2 - 


There are feveral other copies of it in Europe; and we join our 
warmefl wiilies to thofe of F. Georgi *, that the joint labours of the 
learned of all countries and communions may foon give us a com- 
pleat edition of it. Let F. Georgi himfelf fet the example by pro- 
curing a collation of the manufcripts of Italy ; which in his pre- 
fent ftation, he can eafily dof. The reft feems to be deflined for 
Woide or Maldenhover X- 

We come now to the famous Latin Vulgate, which, for eleven 
hundred years, was the general text-book of all the Weftern 
churches ; and is ftill the public Scripture ftandard, in thofe of the 
Roman communion. The firft Latin vernons of the Bible wera 
made from the Greek of the Septuagint, and as the Greek copies 
greatly varied, the Latin verfions varied ftill more ; becaufe they 
were not only done from different architypes, but alfo by many 
different hands : for every one, fays St. Auguftine, who had got a 
tindlure of Greek learning, fell to tranflating for himfelf; fo that 
before the end of the fourth centviry, the traiiflations had become 
innumerable j|. 

To remedy this glaring inconvenience, St, undertook to 

* See his elegant letter to Hwiid, printed with tlie above fpecimen. 

f I believe he is now General of the order of Dominican Friars. 

J I am juft now told that this gentleman, well known for his German tranflalion of Job, 
has already collated fome of the Arabic manufcripts at Oxford; and continues to enrich his 
colleftion from other libraries, particularly thofe cf Spain. 

11 See St. Auguftine Dc dodrina Chrijiiana, lib. ii. cap. 2. 


revife that which was chiefly ufed, and known by the name of 
Italic, on the mofl: corredl copies of the Greek. Having now oc- 
cafion to confult the works of Origen he foon perceived that the 
Greek itfelf was in many places corrupted ; or, at leafl, that it dif- 
fered widely from the Greek verfions, that had been more recent- 
ly made from the Hebrew ; and this it probably was, that gave 
him the firft idea of the neceffity of a new tranflation. For that 
purpofe, he applied eagerly to the fludy of the Hebrew language, 
confulted the mofl learned of the Jewilh docflors, compared all the 
Greek verfions with one another and with the original ; and, at 
length, convinced of the infufficiency of the old Latin verfion, 
even with all his own corre(5lions and improvements, he ferioufly 
fet about making a new one, from the beft Hebrew copies he could 
procure. This he accomplifhed at different intervals, and rather 
by ftarts than a continued labour, in the fpace of fifteen years ; a- 
midft: many contradi(fl:ions, reproaches, and the mod bitter invec- 

For fcarcely had his firft effays made their appearance, when 
the cry from every quarter was fet up againft them, as a daring 
and dangerous innovation; that tended to difcredit a verfion fo long 
ufed in the Latin church, and made from one generally believed 
to have been the work of the Holy Ghoft. 

Although Jerom, confcious of the redlitude of his intentions 
and of the goodnefs of his caufe, defpifed, at firft, the unjuft and 


invidious cavils of his adverfaries; yet they were fo often re- 
peated, and countenanced by fuch high charadlers in the church, 
that he w2iS fain to yield to the neceffity of the times, and to make 
apology after apology for his condudl. Still, however, he con- 
tinued to tranflate, without following any other order than what the 
requefts of his particular friends occafionally fuggefledtohim. The 
four books of Kings were firft publiflied in the year 391 ; foon af- 
ter followed the Prophets ; then the books of Solomon, Job, the 
Pfalms, Ezra, Nehemiah, Chronicles; and, lad of all, the 0(5la- 
teuch *, about the year 405. By this time, the ftorm, that had 
been raifed againft him, was nearly blown over; and he lived to 
fee his labours applauded by fome of thofe who had been the firft 
to condemn them. In lefs than a century after his death his ver- 
fion had become of equal authority with its now only rival, the 
Italic ; and gradually grew in eflimation, till, at length, it was, 
with fome limitations, univerfally adopted by the Latin churches. 
In many refpedls it deferved that preference. It had been made 
immediately from the original, by one who had every neceffary 
qualification for fuch an undertaking. His learning, whether fa- 
cred or profane, was not lefs extenfive than Origen's; his judgment 
and tafte were more corredl and exquifite. He had a perfetfl know- 
ledge of the Greek and Latin languages ; and was fufficiently ver- 

* The five books of Mofes, Jofliua, Judges and Ruth. 


fed in the Hebrew *. He had corre(5\ copies of the Hexapla, if 
not the autograph itfelf, before him. He was at no great diftance 
from a famous fchool of Jewifii Rabbins, whom he might confuk 
as he faw occafion. He had traverfed the land with his own feet, 
and feen with his own eyes the principal places mentioned in fa- 
cred hiftory. He was acquainted with the manners and c\ifl:oms 
of the country. He knew its plants, its animals and its other 
produdlions. With all thefe advantages, and his fuperior talents, it 
was impoflible he Ihould not fucceed. He adopted, in general, that 
mode of tranllating, which had been before fo much admired in 
Symmachus ; and which, indeed, is the beft calculated to exprefs 
the full meaning of the original, without either hurting its inte- 
grity, or transferring its idiotifms. His flile is plain, eafy and un- 
affecfted; and, although his Latinity is not that of the Auguflan 
age, it is neither barbarous nor inelegant. In his didion and phra- 
feology there is a peculiar grace and noble hmplicity, which it is 
not eafy to imitate ; and which no other Latin verfion, except that 
of Houbigant, in any degree pofTefTes. 

The work of St, Jerom is not, however, completely perfeift ; alas ! 
what work of man ever was ? He frequently renders not all his text, 

* St. Jerom's great knowledge of the Hebrew has been called in queftion by Lc Clerc, 
and warmly aflerted by Martianay and others; who, in tlieir zeal for the honour of the holy 
doftor, forgot, fometimes, the rules of good breeding. Le Clerc's alTertions were to be 
combated by reafonings, not by injuries. St. Jerom certainly knew more of the, Hebrew 
language than any other Weftern Chriftian of his day: he knew much more than Origen; 
but he was inferior, in that refped, to many moderns. 


he fometimes gives more than it contains, and he not feldom mif- 
takes its meaning. For the fake of perfpicuity he is often too dif- 
fufe, and for the fake of brevity he is fometimes obfcure. He 
changes proper names into appellatives, and appellatives into pro- 
per names. He makes improper divifions of colons and periods ; 
and, on fome occafions, he is either carelefs or hally *. Add to 
this, that he feems not to have been always guided by the fame 
rules of tranflating. Hence, there is a remarkable want of uni- 
formity throughout: fome parts being tranllated more, others lefs 
literally ; and fome even bordering on paraphrafe. But flill the 
greateft imperfedlion of St. Jerom's verfion arifes from too great 
a confidence in his Jewifli guides, and from his being prepofleft 
with an idea, that the Hebrew copies were then abfolutely fault- 
lefs. This leads him to blame the Septuagint in many places, 
where they are not blameable, and where they read and render 
better than he. But whatever little original flaws may be in 
this jewel, it is ftill a gem of great value; and we are perfedlly 
agreed with F. Fabricy, as to die propriety and importance of hav- 

* It is aftonifliing wiili what rapidity he (Inick off his tranflations. The three books of So- 
lomon he calls " the works of tliree days." That of Tobias he finilhed in one, although he 
liad it to tranflate out of a language he did not well know, through the medium of another 
that was more familiar to him. Such difpatch in a modem tranflator would be deemed 
downright precipitation. But this circumftance, while it accounts for fome negligences and 
overfights, is the flrongeft proof of his comprehenfive genius, quick conceptions, and the moft 
wonderful facility in writing that has ever been known, Erafnius, perhaps, came the nigheft 
to him in all thcfe refpeifls. 


ing the dirt and ftraws, that have in the courfe of time ftuck to it 
and obfcured its luftre, efFedlually wiped away. This can be done 
only by a collation of manufcripts, and I know no body of men 
more proper to undertake the work, than the learned of F. Fabri- 
cy's own order. 

When the Weflern churches adopted St. Jerom's verfion, they 
did not adopt it without referve. Many particular parts and fome 
whole books of the Italic were ftill retained ; and feveral correc- 
tions from Aquila, Theodotion and Symmachus, as well as from 
the Maforetic Hebrew were occafionally introduced. This medley 
obtained, from its general reception, the name of Vulgate. 

It has undergone many corredions and alterations at different 
periods. Towards the end of the eighth century it was re vi fed by 
Alcuin at the defire of Charlemagne. In the twelfth it was, with 
the affiflance of fome Jews, made more conformable to the Hebrew 
by Stephen abbot of Citeaux *. It was again, in the next age, 
corredled with great care and labour by the French Dominicans ; 
and enriched with a number of various readings, not only from 
Latin manufcripts, but alfo from the Hebrew and Greek copies f , 
This mod ufeful work, by that conjunflLve and fabordinate induf- 

* Ciftertium. 

f The autograph of this correSlorium is to be feen in the library of the Dominicans, rue St, 
y acquis, Vaus. A good account of it is given by Fabricy (Titresprimitifs torn. ii.p. 132^) 
It is to be regretted that the projei5l of making a f;iir copy of it, formed in 1 749, did not take 
place; though it is not doubted but it will be refumedand executed in the bed manner. 


try that diftinguiilies religious focietles, was foon multiplied or a- 
bridged over all the Order ; and was confidered as a fort of canoa 
to correifl other manufcripts by. 

Whether they, Avho gave the firfl printed edition at Mayencc 
in the year 1462, ufed it; or what manufcript ferved them for an 
architype, it is not known. One thing is certain ; the firft printed 
editions are extremely faulty. That which was publiflied in the 
year 1515, in the Complutenfian polyglott, is more correal than 
any that preceded it ; but as the corredlions were not always made 
on the authority of manufcripts, and as the editors have not told 
us what other fources they drew from, we read it with doubt and 
diftruft. The firft who gave a good copy of the Vulgate was the 
celebrated Robert Stevens. All his editions are correcl and beau- 
tiful; but that of 1540 Is fuperlatively fo. It was made from 
fourteen defcrlbed manufcripts, and the three principal printed e- 
ditionsof Mayence, Bafil and Alcala. It was rcpubllflied with fome 
alterations by Hentennius in 1547; with various readings from 
thirty manufcripts ; which are accurately defcrlbed. Henten- 
nlus's edition was Improved by Lucas Brugenfis; and publlfhed, 
with his long promlfed annotations, in 1580; and again, more 
fplendidly, in 1583 *. 

Seventeen years were now elapfed fince the Council of Trent had 

• Of the fame year, there is an elegant ajid commodious edition of it in fmall oftavo. 
Both are by Plantin. 


decreed the Vulgate to be an authentic copy of Scripture; and or- 
dered it to be henceforth (exclufively of all other Latin verfions) 
univerfally ufed and appealed to. The charge of having it care- 
fully corredled, and accurately printed, was committed to the Ro- 
man Pontif ; but little had been done during the troublefome reigns 
of Pius IV. and Pius V. fo that Sixtus V. who was born for great 
things, had the honour of executing the great commiflion. He 
had already, as has been faid, given an excellent edition of the 
Greek verfion of the Septuagint, in 1587; and he now gave, in 
1590 * the firft entire Latin Bible that was publiflied by papal au- 

But neither papal authority itfelf, nor the anathemas denounced 
againfl thofe who fhould prefume to alter the fmalleft particle of 
it, could procure it a long duration. The imperious and unpopu- 
lar Sixtus was hardly cold in his grave, when the copies of his e- 
dition were called in and fupprefled f ; and a new one, with above 
two thoufand alterations, was publiflied, in 1592, by Clement VIH. 
of which all the other editions, that have fince been made, are 
literal copies if. 

* The bull of publication is dated in 1 589, but the book was not made public till the year 

•j- It was pretended that Sixtus himfelf had refolved on the fuppreflion; but of this there is 
ao proof, and little probability. 

X When 1 lay literal copies, I do not mean that there have been no changes made in the 
Vulgate, fince the Clementine edition. It is well known that many little correftions, and 

G 2 



As to the refpedlive merits of thofe two'editions, the laft is cer- 
tainly more corredl and more agreeable to the prefent copies oJj 
the originals ; but the firft feems to retain more of the old Vulgate, 
and to be better flipported by the authority of manufcripts *. 
This was probably one of the reafons that induced the Clementine 
editors to exclude all various readings. Bellarmine was for giving 
them; but he was over-ruled by his fellow- labourers "f. The c- 
miffion was partly fupplied in fome pofterior editions; but the 

amendments that had been pwinted'out by Bellarmine and othei-s, have from time to time 
been admitted, even into the Vatican imprefHons ; and thence have found their way into moll 
other pofterior editions. 

* Dr. James, in his Bdlujn Papale, made a minute and invidious collation of the two e- 
ditions of Sixtus and Clement ; from which he and others have drawn conclufions not very 
favourable to the Roman See. But when the very moft they a(k is granted them, and 
when it is allowed that neither of the editions are faultlefs, does it follow that the Vulgate 
is not ftill a moft refpeftable tranflation ; or that the council were in the wrong to prefer 
it to all other Latin verfions, that had yet appeared ? I fhall have frequent occafions to 
juftify it againft the cavils of Amana and other fuch fupercilious and contentious critics; and 
to fhew that it is, in many particular paflages, a more genuine copy of Scripture than the 
prefent Maforetic text. Indeed the outragious attacks, made on this famous verfion by fome, 
not the moft judicious, Proteftant writers, may have, partly, arifen from a defire of retorting 
©n fuch indifcreet Catholics, as had thrown unmerited abufe on the original. At prefent, 
the learned of both fides are in a fair way of being reconciled, in this one point at leaft ; and 
fcem willing to make mutual conccffions. The Catholics are ready to own that the Vulgate 
is not fo pure a rivulet, as fome of their too zealous predeceflbrs maintained; and the Prote- 
ftants as readily acknowledge that the prefent Hebrew text is not fo untainted a fource as was 
long believed- Thus both contribute, in different ways, towards a reeftablifhment of tba 
true text. Thofe without hefttation corredl the Vulgate by the original, where tlie Vulgate 
is evidently faulty ; and thefe make no fcruple to make ufe of the Vulgate in reftoring the true 
text of the original, when the original is evidently or probably corrupted. 

j- See his letter to Lucas Brugenlis. , . 

F^ R O S P E C T U S; S3 

mod ample and valuable colIc(51:ion was publillved at Antwerp by 
Lucas Brugenfis in the year 1 6 1 8 : and has finee been fi-equently 
republifhed, although never fo correclly. Of latter years, fince 
the collation of manufcripts has been revived, fome of the bed Bi- 
blical critics have occafionally had recourfe to thofe of the Vulgate ; 
and many good readings have been fele(fled from them in particu- 
lar books and pafTages. But a more general collation is flill wanted. 
When that has been accompliflied, we doubt not but fome zealous 
pope will fee the expediency of having the Clementine edition again 
revifed, and made more ftriclly conformable to the originals, 
wherever there is no well grounded fufpicion of their being cor- 

A third fource of emendation of the Hebrew text of the Old Tef- 
tament, are the quotations from it in the New. Thefe by fome are 
ranked with the parallel places above-mentioned, to which indeed 
they have a great affinity. They differ, however, in the following 
refpedls. Firft, they are in a different language. Secondly, they 
are not always made from the original ; but more frequently from 
the Septuagint ; and often, probably, from other early verfions. 
Thirdly, they are fornetimes qiTOted in fo vague a manner, that we 
are at a lofs to know whence they were taken ; or whether they 
were meant as flri(5l quotations, or iimple inferences. As a fource 
of emendation, therefore, they are to be ufed with great circum- 
fpedllon; and the various readings, thatm.ay feem to arife from them. 



are rarelv to be adopted ; and not till every circnmflance has been 
weighal with an equal and patient hand. With thefe precautions', 
they may be of confiderable ufe ; and we are greatly obliged to 
Dr. Randolph, for giving us fo accurate a collation of them with 
the Hebrew text and Septuagint vcrfion. It was publifhed at Ox- 
ford, with his learned annotations, in the year 1782. 

The writings of Philo and Jofephus, the two principal Jewifk 
authors of antiquity, after thofc of the Scripture, have alfo been 
reckoned among the fources from which fome corredlions of the 
Plebrew text may be drawn. The former, who was cotemporarj 
with Jefus Chrift, cites, indeed, many pafl'ages of Holy writ ; but 
as he was an Hellenifb of Alexandria, and evidently but little ac- 
quainted with the Hebrew diale6l, we may fuppofe he followed 
the Septuagint ; and therefore, although his quotations are ufeful, 
for corroborating or corre<fting the readings of that veriion, they 
can be but of fecond hand utility towards the amendment of the 

Not fo with regard to Jofephus. He has given us a continued 
hiflory of the Jews, extracted from the Hebrew copies of their own 
canonical books ; and, at firft, partly written by him in the He- 
brew language. Now, although it is not Improbable that he had alfo 
before him the Septuagint verfion, when he compofed his Greek 
hiftory, we cannot fuppofe that he would, on any account, prefer 
it to his originals; and the only fair conclufion we can draw from 


his dilagreeing with our prefcnt Hebrew text, where he agrees with 
the Septuagint, is that our prefcnt Hebrew text and his Hebrew 
text are iiot the fame : confequently, where he depofes againft the 
prefent text in favour of the Septuagint, there is great reafon to 
fufpecl that the former is corrupted. I fay, reafou to fufped ; for 
it by no means amounts to a certain proof; both becaufe the texts 
of Jofephus and of the Septuagint have their corruptions too ; and 
becaufe there is a probability, at leaft, of fach copies, as we now have 
of the one having been in fome places retouched, and made agree- 
able to thofe of the other. It is pretty plain, however, that this 
is not always the cafe ; and it has been clearly fhewn by Kennicott 
and others that the work of Jofephus is often a ufeful commentary, 
fometimes a good correHonum of the Hebrew fcriptui^es — Let me 
add, that it forms a precious link in the long chain of evidence, 
that fupports their authenticity. 

In fine, when the corruptions of the text cannct be removed, 
either by the collation of manufcripts, or the aid of verfions, inter- 
nal analogy or external teflimony ; the lad refource is conjectural 
criticifra. — " Conje^lural criticifm !" exclaims the fcripture- zealot, 
" are we then to mend the word of God by conjedlure, and fubfli- 
" tute our own ideas for the didlates of the Holy Ghoil: ?" Have 
patience for a moment, and hear at leaft what may be urged in 
favour of the conjedlural critic. Let us firft ftate the queftion as it 
ought to be. The conjectural critic does not affume the province 


6f mending the ivord of God: his aim is to purify it as much as pof- 
fible from all human admixture: he wifhes not to fubftitute his own 
ideas for the di(flates of the Holy Ghoft;, but to reflore thofe dic- 
tates to their firft integrity. His wilh is certainly pious, and his 
aim commendable ; it remains to be feen, how far he is likely to be 

I fay then that there are cafes in which the text of an author 
may be correcSled and reftored by mere critical conjedlure; fome- 
times with the utmofl certainty, fometimes with great appearance 
of it, and fometimes only with probability. A few examples from 
the firft Englifh book that comes to hand will put this out of all 

If you fliould read in fome faulty copy of Addifon's firft dialogue 
on medals, " Cynthio, Eugenius and Philander had /m/^^f together 
" from the town" (which might very eafily happen from the ftrong 
refemblance in print of the letters r and /) would you wait for the 
authority of a manufcript to reftore thefe letters to their proper 
places and read retired? Again, if you read, " Their defign was to 
" pafs away the heats fummer," would you hefitate a moment to 
fupply the words of tke, or at leaft the word of between heats and 
fummer? Once more, if the following words in the fame dialogue 
were thus printed, " among the frefti breezes that from rife the 
" river," would you deem it any temerity to put rife before from^ 
where it evidently fliould be placed. 


In the above examples, the emendations would be all of the ut- 
moft certainty. I will now produce fome that would be the next 
thing to certain, Suppofe we read, in the fame place ; " and the 
" agreeable /«r(f of fliades and fountains," wemuil perceive that fome- 
thing is wanting before tiire, and we Ihall have little doubt that it is mix. 
Again; " in which the whole country naturally" — naturally^ what? 
why, moft probably, "abounds:" though, abfolutely, it might per- 
haps be fome other fynonymous word. 

But there are cafes where the emendation would be but barely 
probable, as in the following example : " They were all three well 
«< verfed in the politer of learning, and had travelled into the moft 
" nations of Europe." We know fome word is wanting after pO' 
liter, but we can only form a probable conjeclure what word it is. 
It is probably parts, it may be bratiches; but fome fuch word it mufl 
be. It is ftill harder to fay what word fliould precede nations, or 
whether there is not a word too much in this part of the fentence : 
for we may fill it up by inferting the word refined between mojl and 
nations ; or by throwing out the word the before moji : and both 
emendations would be almoft equally probable. 

It would be eafy to bring fimilar and flill more flriking inftances 
from the Latin, Greek and other dead languages .; but thefe, I 
prefume, are more than fufficient to evince, that the text of an au- 
thor may be corrected, fometimes with certainty, and fometimes 
with probability, from conjeclure alone. 

This, indeed, will be readily allowed with regard to other writ- 



ings ; but the Bible ! the Bible ! Is the original text of the Brble 
to be corrected in the fame manner ? With a proper deference and 
due diftincfllon, I anfwer, undoubtedly it is. If in Ben-chaim's 
edition of the Hebrew text, for example, one of the commandments 
had been thus exprcffed; " Thou Ihalt commit adultery," as it is 
faid to have been once printed in an edition of the Englifh Bible : 
muft pofterior editors have waited for manufcript authority to re- 
flore the negative particle ? Or if, in the example adduced by Hou- 
bigant, it were written in our prefent text, through a miftake not 
unfrequent with the Maforetes, " Thou flialt adore thy God, and 
*' not ferve him." Mufl that wicked not remain there, becaufc we 
have no manufcript at hand to corredl it by ^ Surely, furely, he 
mud be fcrupuloufly fearful of profaning the Scripture, who would 
reje6l an emendation, that refcues the Scripture itfelf from evident 
impiety; under pretext, that it is but a conjecflural correiftion *. 

" * To make this matter ftill more eviJent, ar.d to e?:pofe the abfurdity of thofe who main- 
tain, that no conjeftural emendations of the Hebrew text are admiffible; let us put the cafe, 
that our Englifli Bible were the original Scripture; and that in all the copies of it, whether 
printed or manufcript, the fixth verfe of the fecond chapter of Ezekiel run thus (ns it a(5lu- 
ally does in an edition I have feen:) " Though briars and thorns be with thee, and though 
" thou deft -well among fcorpions ; be not afraid, &c." Let us alfo fuppofe that this reading 
were prior to all tranflations made from the fuppofed original, and could not, confequently, 
be reifllficd by their means; would a critic of the fmalleft penetration, fufficiently acquainted 
with the '3'rammar and genius of the Englifli language, and who had maturely confidered the 
context and the fcope of the prophet's words, be at a lofs to perceive, or unwarranted to af- 
firm, that a li had been dropt out of the text, and that the original reading muft have been 
diuell? Or, {liould he find (as Archbifliop Seeker found in the edition he ufeJ) in Philip. I. 


It is true, however, that all criticifm, and particularly facrcd 
criticifm, has its due bounds; and nothing is more eafy or more 
common, than to exceed them. A young man of genius and ap- 
plication, who has got a certain tindure of Greek and Hebrew 
learning; and is able, with the help of a Lexicon, to read his Bible 
in the original, is but too apt to think he has made wonderful dif- 
coveries; and fancies he has hit on the genuine meaning of a thou- 
fand obfcure paflages, that had efcaped every prior tranflator. But 
if he poflefs but a fmall fhare of good fenfe, and be not too eager 
to publifli his crude efTays, he will foon begin to percieve that he 
has been precipitate in his march, and will tread the ground over 
again with a more fleady and cautious flep. He will not, now, 
cry out Eureka at the firfl appearance of a difcovery, however fpe- 
cious. He will carefully examine it in every point of view, fug- 
geft to himfelf every obje6lion that is likely to be made againft it, 
and adopt it only after mature difcuflion and full conviction. By 
proceeding in this manner, he will certainly make fewer difcover- 
ies; but thofe he makes will be more to the purpofe. In propor- 
ti"bn as he advances in this difficult and dangerous career, he will 
move with ftill greater warinefs ; become every day more diffident 

16. " to ad dafHi(fticn to my bonds;" or in Pfalm xixi. 10. " my life isfpent with grief and 
my ears witli fighing;" or i Timothy i. 2. Grace, mercy, peace from God our Father and 
Jefus Chriil of L,ord;" would he be rafh in conjefluring that ofiho\x\dht our; ears, years ; and 
ad daffliaion, add affliction? I hardly think that any one in his right fenfes, would find fault 
with fuch emendations-, though made without the authorityof either manufcript or verfion. 

H 2 


of his critical acumen j doubt of many of his former affumptions; 
often find himfelf conflrained to admit as highly plaufible, what 
he had once rejedled as abfurd; and be contented with offering an- 
opinion, where he had before uttered a decifion. Such is the pro- 
cedure of the fage and fober critic, whether he has to corre<5l his 
text, or to explain it when corredled. 

To give a minute detail of all the rules, and exceptions from 
the rules, that ought to guide him as he goes along, and which he 
never ought to lofe fight of, would alone make a volume as large 
as Defpauter. But they are all ultimately reducible to the four 
following general and comprehenfive canons, the ufe of which is 
not limited to conjectural criticifm only; bvit extends to every o- 
ther fovirce of emendation. 

The firfl canon is, never to fuppofe that the text is corrupted, 
without the mofl cogent and convincing reafons. For if, as the 
judicious Rollin remarks, when' altering the text of any author is 
in queflion, one muft be, as it Vv-ere, compelled to it by a fort of 
abfolute necefTity, and have almoft an evidence of the corruption ; 
how miich more flriclly is this rule to be obfervcd, with regard to 
the text of Scripture ? , 

The fecond canon is, never to have rccourfe to conje<5lural criti- 
cifm, until every other fource has been tried and exhaufled; for it 
would be ridiculous to exert even the greatefl ingcnviiry, in gucf- 
fing, when we may attain our end, by readier and lefs deceptious 


The third — Let all coiTe<5lions be confiftent with the text and 
with one another ; that is to fay, let there be nothing in the cor- 
recSlion that does not perfectly agree with what precedes and fol- 
lows, and that is not fupported by grammatical analogy. 

The fourth — Infert no corre(5lion, however plaufible or even cer- 
tain, in the text, without warning the reader, and diftingiufliing 
it by a proper note. 

Thefe canons ftridlly adhered to, and dlfcreetly ufed, we fee no 
danger in correcling the Hebrew text. Nay, vintil it be thus cor- 
rected, we fliall never have a good tranflation of it. 

Bat the corruptions of the prefent text are not the fole difficulty 
the tranflator has to furmount. To afcertain the true meaning is 
often as hai'd as to afcertain the true reading ; and this has been a- 
nother great caufe of the imperfection of modern tranflations : a 
caiife which, perhaps, will never be w^holly removed. 

There is no language fo compleatly copious and diflindlive as to 
have a different "jocable for every diirerent idea. Our own, after 
aJl the refinement it has received, is wonderfully defedlive in this 
rcfpedl ; and we yet want a great number of terms to exprefs the 
vafl variety of our conceptions. Hence it requires no fmall fkill in 
the Art of writing, to avoid, at all times, equivocation or amphibo- 

But this is much more fenfibly perceived in the Hebrew than, 
perhaps, any other language. The paucity of its compounds, the 


uncertainty of its derivations, the frequent coincidences and confi- 
milarities of its inflexions, an almoft: total want of ab{lra<5ls and 
modifiers, the many and multifarious fignifications of the fame 
particle — thefe and other fimilar obftacles impede the tranllator's 
progrefs at every ftep, and oblige him to grope his way with great 
caution and diffidence. 

Befides, even the radical fignification of many words is extremely 
uncertain : nor needs this at all to furprize us. If there are terms 
and phrafes in Shakcfpeare, who wrote in our own language and 
touched almoft on our own days, already become unintelligible to 
our beft gloflarifts ; how difficult muft it be to decypher the words 
of a language, that has ceafed to be a living one for two thoufand 
years ; is all contained in one not bulky volume ; and of which fe- 
veral words and modes of expreffion occur but feldom, or only once ? 

Add to thefe the difficulties that arife from the great diverfity 
of ftile in the different Hebrew writers, from references to monu- 
ments that no more exift ; from frequent allufions to fadls that are 
not recorded or but barely hinted ; from proverbial fayings, poeti- 
cal licences, uncommonly bold metaphors, and obfcure allegories : 
not to mention the very great difference of laws, manners and local 
ufages ; which are well known to have great influence on the lan- 
guage of a nation, and mull: have particularly aflre(fted that of the 
Jews, who, in thofe refpe(5ls, fo widely differed from all other nations. 
Whoever confiders all this duly, will be convinced, even without 


the light of experience, that the route of the Bible-tranflator is nei- 
ther finoorh nor even ; and that it behoves him to walk in it with, 
the utmoft wariiief*. 

It may, neverthelefs, be coniidently affirmed, diat the greatefl 
part of thofe who have entered into it for thefe laft three hundred • 
years, have voluntarily put out their own eyes, and allowed them- 
felves to be led on by the word of guides. The fame impofing fet 
of men, who had the audacity and art to make the Chriftian world 
believe that they had preferved the text of their Scriptures in its ori- 
ginal integrity, by a pretended enumeration of every word and let- 
ter, found it equally eafy to perfwade them, that the true reading, 
and meaning had alfo been preferved by the pundluation of every 
fylliible, and the diftindlion of every paufe. This was a fecond part 
of that wonderful Masora, without which the Hebrew text was 
fuppcfed to be a mere dead letter, a nofe of wax, a body without 
a foul *. 

I will not here engage in the much agitated controverfy about 
the antiquity and authority of the vowel points. Capelkis, Maf- 
clef, Houbigant and Sharp have nearly exhaufted the fubjedl; and 
the efforts, that have been made to refute their arguments, have 
only fliewn more clearly how invincible they are. The vowel 
points, whether they be the fruit of the fifth or of the tenth cen- 
tury, are certainly a rabbinical, and, in many refpedls, but a pue- 

* Nafum cereum, corpus expers ai:imae. Guarin. pi aefy.t. in Gram. Heb. 


rile produ<ftlon *. Confidered, indeed, as a mere human work 
they may be allowed to have Ibme little utility. They fhew us 
how the Hebrew was pronounced at the time of their invention. 

* To give the reader, who is not acquainted with Hebrew grammar, fome, not un- 
favourable, idea of Maforetic punduation, let us fuppofe that tlT£ prefent Englffh verfion oi 
the Bible were the original ; and written, as die original formerly was, in one uniform cha- 
racter, and without any of our modern marks of (iiilindlion. In this fuppofition, the text 
would run thus : 


Let us next fuppofe that fome ingenious pedagogue, remarking the great diflPerencc be- 
tween this orthography and the prefent orthoepy; and obferving, alfo, that fo clofe and 
conneded an arrangement of words and letters is attended with fome difEculty to unpraflifed 
readers; fliould fet himfelf to contrive expedients,' to remove thofe inconveniences; and, for 
that purpofe, ftiould reafon in tlie following manner : " Our alphabet has but five vowels to 
" exprefs fifteen vocal founds; — Some of our confonants vary their powers according to their 
'< fituatlon; and fome of them have occafionally no power at all. The fame letter is fome- 
" times an afpirate and fometimes not. Many words have more than one fignification with 
" out any difference in the mode of utterance. Our written language has no paufal marks, 
" and our profody is not regulated by any tonic diftinftions. To remedy thefe evils, and to 
" fix the true Englifh pronunciation for all time to come, let our fifteen vowel founds be re- 
«' prefented by as many different fymbols. 

" A open by T E Ihort by • • O long by • 

" A clofe by ■• E obfcure by , O Ihort by .^ • 

" A broad by f\ I long by _, U long by « 

" A flender by _, I fliort by . U Ihort by • 

" Elong by , , I French by • U Englilh . 


" Then, let the hard founds of C and G, I and V confonants, and all quiefcents be marked 
" with a dot above, and the afpirate H and hiffing S with a fmall horizontal line. — Let all 
" words be feparated by proper fpaces, and diftinguifhed by proportionate paufes. Let 

• TheJymhoU of I Jhort, hug, and U long, are tbt fame; but thi jirjl h placed below the line, the feeottd above, 
tiii the lift in the middle. 


They diftinguifli, although not always juftly, the different accep- 
tations of the fame or nearly limilar words. In our prefent faulty 
text, they often fupply the want of many formative letters ; and, 

" A full paufe be marked thus 

/I tuu pauie De marKea tnus • -» 

A fmaller paufe thus ^ C ^'^^^ below the line. 

" A (till fmaller paufe thus • ? 1 .1 1 1 i- » 

•^ ^ both above the line. 

" And the fmalleft of all thus K J 

He faid, and (Iraightway fell to work: and lo! the whole Bible, in his induflrious hands, 
aiTumed in due time this rare appeal ancc. 


• • • •A* •• •• • 


• • •»• •• • — • ••• •■•• 

» •♦ • • ■ •• •»!•• 

It is of no importance, whether thefe fymbols, which are indeed the very rabbinical points, 
are as accurately combined, and adapted to our language, as they might be: they are fuffi- 
clently fo to exprefs the idea that is meant to be conveyed; and now, my good reader, what 
think you of this improvement? " The diftinftion of words, you will fay, is well enough: tlie 
«< marks of paufalion, though multiplied without neceflity, may alfo have their ufc : but to 
" attempt to fix a pronunciation that is ever fladluating, and tones that are continually 
" changing, by any other rules than the prefent ufage, and the pracftice of the befi; fpeakcrs, 
" is a foolilh and fruitlefs attempt. For how are the powers of thefe very fymbols afcertain- 
" ed, but by an immediate appeal to living founds and the now prevailing modes of utterance ? 
" If thefe happen to change, as we know they imperceptibly do, what will be the ufe of your 
«• boafted fymbols at any future period? and by what canons will the'tr refpedlive powers be 
" afcertained? Granting even, that they had, like Ezekiel's myftic wheels, a living and felf-in- 
" terpretating fpirit within them, that could effeiftually and for ever arreft fo iieeting a thing 
" as vocal air; why is their pofition in the text fo awkward and unnatural ? Why are they ge- 
" nerally placed, not beneath tlie vowels, the various powers of which tliey are fuppofed 
•< to denote, but beneath the preceding or following confonant?" Stop, my lioneR friend; 
you are now quite miftaken: there are, no more, any vowels in the Englilh alphabet. 
" What? a, e, i, 0, ti, not vov.'els?" By no means: they are all confonants ; muteconfonants! — 
Have you any thing more to objeiS? — " I have: Such a motley multitude of pricks and points 



thereby, ferve to more readily difcriminate genders, numbers, per- 
fons, moods and tenfes ; although here, too, the difcrimination is 
often arbitrary and fometimes manifeftly Avrong. In Ihort, they 
are a kind of grammatical comment on the text ; and, if they had 
never been puflied forward in any other light, they might have 
been permitted to hold a fubordinate rank among works of the fame 
nature: but to impofe them upon us as of divine authority, was 
the height of impudence, and to receive them as fuch the height 
of credulity. 

As fuch, however, they were generally received by almoft all 

" disfigure the beauty and fymmetry of the text, and often confufe the mind, as much as they- 
" bewilder the eye; andl diflike every thing that produceth confufion." Good! But what if 
our pedagogue had crowded the fcene with a whole hoft more of regal and miniflertal atten- 
dants (for fo the Hebrew grammarians denominate their accents) with fakeph-katons and 
fakeph-gad'Ji ; pajhtas znd karr.eparas ; JJy.ilJljalctb TiXid mercakephalas, and twenty other fuch 
barbarous names ; of which, although it requires a little code of laws to marfhal them, and 
although Bohlius is faid to have in vain employed feven long years for diat laudable purpofe,. 
yet neither he nor any one clfe could ever point out the ufes? What, if inftead of the true En- 
glifh pronunciation, he had given, you a Scotch or Iriih one? What if even his divifion of words 
and fenlences were often not only trifling but palpably erroneous ? What if other pedagogues, 
improving on his improvements, had thrown out, by degrees, the original vowels, now be- 
come ufelefs lumbsi; and if inftead o( GOD, HEAVEN, EARTH, you were prefcnted 
with GD, HVN, ERTH, befpattered with pricks and patches as above ? What if fuch ellfions 
were called natural anomalies of Englifh grammar? What — " Sweep all that traOi away," 
you would undoubtedly exclaim, "and give me again the plain old unpointed text of myBible." 
Such trafh is the greateft part of the Maforetic points, which rabbinical pedagogues would 
impofe upon us as tlie only fure interpreter of the Hebrew fcripturc! Whoever wifhes to fee, 
to what degree of abfurdity.or infanity,cven Chriftian writers have been led by this impofition, 
may read Wafmuih's Iiiflitulions; Oufcl dc accsntuat'nnt Hehraka; or Walter Crofs's Tagh- 
mica! art, publiflied at London in the year 1698. 


Proteflant communions *, from this ridiculous notion, that if they 
were once allowed to be a human invention, the infallibility of the 
Scripture, as a rule of faith, would be precarious; and the funda- 
mental article of Proteftantifin be overturned at one blow. This 
blow, neverthelefs, a Proteftanc divine f was not afraid to ftrike; 
and he flruck it fo effedlually, that all the rabbinical learning and 
dialeclical Ikill of the Buxtorfs were not able to ward it. 

But what could not be done by fklll or learning, was done by 
dint of authority. In the year 1679 a fpecial canon was framed 
at Geneva and adopted by all the Helvetian churches ; by which it 
was decreed that no one Ihould in future be admitted to the facred 
miniflry, who did not publicly acknowledge the Maforetic text to 
be divine and authentic ; both as to coiifonantsX and votvels. They 
had only one flep further to go ; and that v/as, to decree the my- 
fteries of the Cabbala to be of divine origin. 

Although the Geneva canon, backed by reams of annual thefes 
from the Dutch univerfities, fufpended for a while the fate of the 

* This is the more remarkable, as the firfl Reformers and their dilciples, for nearly a cen- 
tury, were of a very different opinion (fee Hody d^ ttxt. original, p. 553.) But there is a caufe 
for every thing. The difpute about the yiidge of controverfies had been warmly agitated be- 
tween tiiem and the Catholic party; and they thought they could not batter anfwer feme 
troublcfome obje^ions of the latter, than by maintaining that the vowel points were of divine 
origin. What is ftill more ftrange, there were fome few Catholics of the fame opinion. Even 
Arias Montanus leans that way ; and Poftellus vs-ent further than ever did Jew or Proteftant ; 
he affirmed that God himfelf had made a prefent of the Mafora to Adam. 
■ -j- Louis Cappel a French Calvinift and profeflbr of the Hebrew at Saumur. 

J In the language of that time, all the letters of the Hebrew alphabet were called confonants. 

I 2 



Maforetic Dagon, it could not long prevent its downfal. The moft 
learned of all countries were generally on the fide of Capellus ; and 
their auxiliary attacks were the more fuccefsful, as fome of them 
were deferters from, the other party and knew its weakefl holds. 
Still fome feeble efforts were made, from time to time, to fupport 
the tottering idol : but he now feems tO: lie proftrate on the threfh- 
old of his own temple, never, we apprehend, to be raifed again*. 
But if we rej^iSt the Maforetic points and accents, what fliall we 
fubftitute in their place ? Mufl we dived the text of every .thing 
but the bare elements, and divide and explain it as we pleafe ? Not 
as we pleafe but as we ought, and in the fame manner we fhould 
divide and explain any other author. The firft part of this taflc 
will indeed be eafy, if we have accompliflied the latter. The true 
meaning once afcertained, the neceffary divifions will readily pre- 
fent themfelves : nor is it material whether they be always the mod 
proper that might be found, or not. It is fufficient that they cre- 

* The lad publication in this conntiy in favour of die Maforetic fyftem is, 1 believe, Uie 
fecond edition of a Hebrew grammar, in Latin, by Dr. James Robertfon, profefibr of the ori- 
ental languages in the Univerfity of Edinburgh; printed tliere in 1783. In the preface, notes, 
and appendix to this viork, the learned profelTor has coUefted from the Buxtorfs, Leufden^ 
Schultens, Guarin, the French encyclopedifts, Memoires de literature, &c. the moft plaufible 
arguments that have been urged by the puniftuifts fince the beginning of the controverfy. 
The appendix and part of the notes are chiefly intended to combat the oppofite fyftem as a- 
dopted and defended by profelTor Wilfon of the Univerfity of St. Andrews; who had, the yc;ir 
before, publiflied, for the ufe of his own clafs, Eletmnts of Hcbretxi Grarm/uir; which, confidered 
as an elementary book, wants nothing to recommend it to the public but a better litbiew type. 
His ahtagonift has been far more fortunate in his printer. 


ate no embarraiTment or confufion, by disjoining what ought to be 
Gonnedled ; or by connedling what ought to be disjoined, as the 
Maforetic divifions not leldom do *. 

The great objedl, then, is to come at the true fignliicatlon of e- 
very word and fentence ; and this, I affirm from experience, we flialL 
better acconiphfli with an unpointed text before us, than with a 
pointed one: efpecially if, in the latter cafe, we fit down to traa- 
flate, prepoffefled with an idea, that the points are to be our only 

I fay, " only guides:" for I would not exclude them from the 
tranQator's notice. They may occafionally be confulted, not as 

* This, indeed, ouglit to be reckoned among the caufes of the imperfeftion of modern ver- 
frons. For there is hardly a modern tranflator, who has not, more or lefs, been led aftray by 
tlie prefcnt divifion and punauationof the Hebrew text; even when the text itfelf is fufficiently 
clear and obvious, to make any deviation from it unexcufable. The divifion of the chapters is 
often improper, but that of the verfes is infinitely more fo. We are in many places prefcnted 
with a full periodical diiiinflion, where there fiiould not be fo much as the fmalkft paufc ; no- 
minatives are feparated from their verbs, adjcdlives from their fubftantives, and even letters 
and fjllables are cruelly divorced from the words they naturally belong to. " Nothmg," fays 
a fenfible writer in the Critical Review (vol. xviii. p. 188.) "has been more injurious lollicfa- 
" cred writings, than the common method of dividing them into chapters and verfes ; by which 
" means the chain of reafoning is frequently broken, the fentences mangled, the eye mifguid' 
" ed, the attention bewildered, and the meaning loft." This is, indeed, high colouring ; but 
ftillthe likenefs is true: and there are many inftances, both in the Old and New Tcftament, 
ef miftakes and miftranllations from this caufc. Abfurd as the prefcnt divifions often are, 
there is yet an almoft abfolute neceffity of retaining them, in feme fliapeor other. According 
to them our Concordances and Indexes have been formed; and references and quotations 
made for two hundred years back ; it would therefore create much confufion to remove fuch 
land-marks. Bui we m.iy remove the evils which they have caufed. 


oracles, but as opinions; which we may adopt, or rejecfl, as we 
judge it expedient : but, I believe, we Ihall rarely, by their affift- 
ance, overcome a real difficulty, which we could not have overcome 
without it. Even their greatefl pretended utility, that of fupply- 
ing a number of fervile letters which are wanting in our printed 
Hebrew Bibles, is in a great meafure fuperfeded by the collation of 
manufcripts ; in which we luckily find thofe very letters, which the 
pundluifts would have us ridiculoufly believe, were originally want- 
ing in the autographs; although the want of them leaves fuch 
grammatical irregularities in the text, as no written langxiage ever 

And here I cannot help remarlving, that the Maforetic punctua- 
tion has been producftive of the greatefl evil, where it has been cre- 
duloufly fuppofed to be the moft produ6tive of good. The real 
vocal letters, being once flript of their vocal powers and deemed 
quiefcent confonants, were gradually thrown out as iifelefs, or o- 
mitted as unnecell'ary ; according to the negligence or caprice of 
tranfcribers : for what need is there (they proba'-^y faid) fcrupu- 
loufly to retain a 'uau, when a hokm or kibbutz performs its func- 
tions ; or ajWwhen its place is fo well fupplied by a hink-katon^ 
izcre or JegolF* Hence we do not meet with any tv/o manufcripts, 

'* The yW and vau are important Hebrew formatives. The firft is the chnra<5tcriruc of the 
mafculine plural of noans and of the tranfitivc voice of verbs, not to mention other purpofes 
vhich it formerly feems to have ferved; the tnu is the cliaraifleriHic of feminine pluials and 


that are alike in thefe particulars ; and by far the greatefl number of 
various readings arife from the accidental or intentional omiflion 
of thofe two letters. 

But if the Mafora is confidered as an unfure and infufficient 
guide, to lead us to the true meaning of the Hebrew fcriptures, 
what other methods lliall we take to attain our end ? The very 
fame we take to underlland the Greek and Latin authors. We 
muft, firft of all, learn the grammar and vocabulary of the lan- 
guage; we mull (ludy its peculiar ftru(5lure and genius; obferve its 
fingularities, anoinalies, and analogy with other tongues ; confult 
the beft lexicons, concordances * and grammatical commentaries ; 
confider attentively the fcope, flile and phrafeology of every 

of two of the participles: but in all thefe refpefts they are both wanting, in an infinite num- 
ber of places, in the prefent printed text; and this want is urged by punfluifts as a proof of 
the utility, not to fay neceffity, of the vowel-points. Ye are in the right, Gentlemen ! When 
ye have undermined a building by taking away fome of its chief fupports, ye muft (lay it 
with fuch materials as ye have; and ye may then infift on their being neceffary : but if we can 
by any means replace the original ftone pillars, we fhall have no further ufe for your wooden 

* Of all the helps towards underftanding the Hebrew fcriptures a good concordance is un- 
doubtedly die moft ufefiil. But we yet wnnt a good concordance ; and the man who fliould 
devote five or fix years to the compiling of one from Buxtorf, CalaCo, Noldius, Taylor, 
Kircher, Montfaiicon and Trommius, would do a fingular fervice to Biblical ftudents. Bux- 
torf's method of aiTangement, with very little improvement, (bould be ftridly followed; tlie 
errors of orthography reftified from the authority of manufcripts and other fources of emen- 
dation; and the various acceptations of the fame word in the ancient verfions e.\a<£tly noted 
and methodically diilinguifljcd. Such a work would be worth all the commentaries that ever 
have been made. 


tlifferent writer; carefully diflingiiifli the natural from the figura- 
tive, poetical from profaic compofition ; compare author with au- 
thor, paflage with pafTage, image with image, trope with trope ; io 
as that all the parts of the whole text may mutually throw light on 

one another: and, becaufc the whole text together makes but an 

ordinary volume, and contains many words and phrafes, that oc- 
cm* but once or extremely feldom, we muft, for the better under- 
flanding of thefe, call into our aid the other Oriental kindred dia- 
lecls ; the Chaldee, Syriac, Samaritan, Ethiopic and Arabic. The 
three firfl have fo great an affinity of idiom with the Hebrew, that 
they may be coniidered as ccufin-germans of the fame family; 
and though the other two are not quite fo near a-kin, their rela- 
tionfliip is not lefs evident *. From all of them, therefore, may 
be derived helps towards inveffcigating the radical fignification of 
obfcure words, and illuftrating modes of expreffion that would, 
elfe, be inexplicable. A comparative di^flionary of all thofc dia- 
lects would be a mod vifeful work. With half the bulk of Caf- 
tel's, it might be made mueh more copious and correcT: ; and, to 
render the analogy more llriking, it lliould, I think, be all in the 
Hebrew characfler, like Schindler's pentaglott lexicon. Such a 

* The Arabic has one advantage which the other dialeds do not, in the fame degree, pof- 
fefs. It is ftill a living language, tlie mod extenfively fpoken, and, in fome refpeiSls, the moft 
copious of all languages. There are extant in it a great many elegant compofitions on all forts 
of fubje^s, both in profe and poetry; and the ftudy of il has, of late years, been greatly pro- 
moted by fome of the moll learned men of the age. 


work I have long had in contemplation * : but alas ! Iter longuvi, 
brevis actas : We may grafp at immenfity in idea ; but our fpan is, 
in reality, the fpan of a pigmy. 

Until fome literary drudge be found, with patience and fufEcient 
leifure to go through fo tedious a labour, we mufl be content with 
picking froniBuxtorf, Schaaf, Crinefms, Ludolf, Mininfki, Golius 
and Richardfon, fuch information as we can get ; though we fhall be 
frecpently difappointed, and obliged to confefs, that the fuccours, 
we draw from fuch fources, are but fmall, in proportion to the 
pains they coft us. Etyrnological conjedlures are of all the mofl 
fallacious ; and it requires much penetration, a nice difcerning 
tafte, and a long and ferious ponderation of circumftances, to 
be able, amidfl a number of almoft equally probable derivations, 
to determine which is likelieft to be the true one. When we have 
toiled, for example, through Schultens's tedious and difgufling 
book of Hebrew origins, we have only learned, how little we can 
learn from fuch fort of difcufllons ; and are vexed that we fpent fo 
much time to fo little purpofe. 

Our next great refources, therefore, after a long analytical and 
comparative ftudy of the Hebrew language itfelf, are the ancient 
verfions; which not only afford the befl helps for corredling the 

• As a proper introduiflion to fuch a work, I formed, many years ago, the plan of a Com- 
parative Grammar of the principal Oriental diahlis ; which, by way of relaxation from more ferious 
ftudies, I am now compleating, and preparing for the prefs— -not doubting but the fmallell 
attemptjto facilitate the ftudy of thofe languages, and thereby to promote Biblical knowledge, 
will be favourably received by the ferious part of the public. 

* K 


text ; but are alfo, in general, the bed interpreters of its genuine- 
meaning. I will not fay, with Voffius, that, if we had not thofe ver- 
fions, particularly that of the Septuagint, we fhould be able to make 
no tranflationatall; but I think it maybe confidently affirmed that a 
tranflation, made without their aid, would, in many places, be ex- 
tremely imperfecfl and uncertain; and that it has happened, by a 
mofl fingular providence, that they have been tranfmitted to us in 
fo many different forms ; as if for that very purpofe. Yet we are 
not implicitly to follow them, any more than the Mafora. "We are 
ever to remember that they likewife have their faults and corrup- 
tions ; and that nearly the fame precautions are neceffary, when 
we confult them as interpreters ; as when we employ them as cor- 
re^loria. What has been already faid of them, in the one refpe<5t„ 
is applicable in the other. 

Neither are we to negle<5l the modern verfions, whether Latin or 
vernacular, that have been made fince the revival of letters. For 
although they are almofh all made from the prefent Maforetic text, 
and confequently participate of all its defedls ; there are few of them 
from which a diligent and judicious tranflator may not draw fome 
advantage : let us here take a fhort review of them ; beginning by 
thofe in Latin. 

The mofl ancient *, and, in a great meafure, the model of all 

* I omit mentioning, fuch modern Latin tranflations as are only in manufcript, feveral 
of which are faid to be extant in different libraries ; as alfo fuch party-coloured verfions as 
thofe of Ofiander, Clarius, Sec, which are only interpolated editions of the Latin Vulgate. 


the reft, was that of Santes Pagnhius, printed firft at Florence in 
the year 1528. It was the work of twenty five years, and has been 
greatly extolled both by Jews and Chriftians, as the beft Latin 
verlion that ever w^as made from the Hebrew ; that of Jerom not ex- 
cepted. It is, for all that, a barbarous compofition, defpicable in al- 
moft every point of view, but that of a grammatical glofTary : as fuch 
it may be of confiderable ufe in giving an idea of the Hebrew idiom, 
and a fuperficial knowledge of the language to grown vip Biblical 
ftudents, who are too idle to turn over the leaves of a lexicon, or 
con their Buxtorf. It was made yet more horridly uncouth by 
Arias Montanus, who interlined it in his edition of the Hebrew 
text of the Antwerp polyglott, from which it unaccountably found 
its way into that of London. 

Next, in priority of time, is the verfion of Munfler, which ap- 
peared about the year 1534. It is little lefs literal, but more per- 
fpicuous and elegant than that of Pagninus. The rabbins were his 
chief guides ; and his annotations are compiled with no fmall dif- 
cernment from their beft works. 

Of a ftill purer Latinity and greater perfpicuity is the tranflation 
of Leo-Juda, commonly called the Tigurine Bible; becaufe it was 
publifhed by the divines of Zurich. The firft edition is of 1543. 
It has been fince frequently republilhed in different kingdoms; and 
with fome fmall alterations, even by the Catholic Univerfity of Sala- 
manca, in 1584. 

K 2 


Hitherto the new tranflators of the Bible had moved nearly in 
the fame track; all pm^fuing, with more or lefs attention and fide- 
lity, the route which the rabbins had marked out for them ; and 
making the Mafora the pole-ftar by which they fleered. Caftalio 
had the courage to ftrike out a path for himfelf. He tranflated, 
. indeed, from the prefent Hebrew text, but he did not Judaically 
defpife the ancient verfions. The principal, and often neceffarv, 
fupplements which are found in them, but wanting in the Mafore- 
tic copies, he inferted with proper diflindlions *: nor did he rejedl 
thofe ufeful and excellent books, which moft Proteftants have, after 
St. Jerom and his Hebrew preceptors, too rafhly thrown out of 
. the canon and branded with the name of Apocrypha ; but which, 
in the moft ancient copies of the Greek, Syriac and Latin verfions, 
are intermixed and rank with the other books : and, to conne<fl the 
Old Teftament with the New, he inferted two excellent fupplements, 
abridged from Jofephus ; the one after the fourth book of Efdras, 
and the other at the end of the Machabees. 

Caftalio deviated no lefs from his predecelTors in his mode cf 
tranflating. They had crept, like timid and ignoble flaves, after 
an imperious mafler ; he claimed the privilege of walking fide by 
fide. His verfion is bold and free, his flile clear and concife, his 
didlion pure and perhaps fcrupuloufly elegant. It was reprobated, 

* To additions from the Greek he prefixed a G; to thofe from the Latin an L; when 
from both, G. L. An H denoted the end of the addition. 


however, in general by Jews and Chrifllans, by Catholics and Pro- 
teflants, as a temerarious, infolent and even impious burlefque of 
Holy writ. The theologians of Geneva, with Beza at their head, 
were particularly harfh in their cenfures of it. But more cool and 
candid eftimators have given a very different judgment. Slmler, 
Huetius, Buxtorf, Duport, and, above all, Epifcopius have borne 
honourable teilimony in its favour ; and whoever reads it without 
prepoffeffion, and compares it carefully with the originals, will, we 
.doubt not, be of the opinion of Dr. Mead, that it is not only a 
mod elegant but alfo a mod faithful verfion *. Had the author 
worked upon a better text, retained a little more of the idiomatical 
fimplicity of his originals, and been fomewhat lefs lavifh of his ora- 
torial graces and claffical refinements, his tranflation would, alto- 
gether, be the firft of modern times. As it is, I make no hefitation 
to give it as my opinion, that a more compleat, more impartial or 
more faithful verfion will not eafily be found. The beft edition 
is that of Bafil, in folio, in 1573. 

About two years after, was publifiied a new Latin verfion of the 
Old Teftament, by Junius and Tremellius ; to which, in the fecond 
and all pofterior editions, was added Beza's tranflation of the New 
Teftament. It has been often retouched and reprinted, both in 

• Quam,habita multls in locis collatione.nonmodo Latinifllmam, fed etiam accuratifllmani 
et ad fenfum mentemque diflorum, tam in Hebraeis quam in Graecis, maxime accomoJa- 
tam deprehendi. Praefat. in Medicam. Sacr. 


Germany and in England ; and was long in high eftimation among 
Maforetic Proteflants ; yet it never entirely recovered from the dif- 
credit thrown upon it by Drufius, and is now almoft funk into o- 
blivion. It muft be confefled, however, that it merited a better 
fate : and although it deferves not the exceflive eulogiums of Poole, 
it is neither fo unfaithful nor fo arbitrary as fome critics pretend. 
The reproach of its being a paraphrafe rather than a tranflation, 
is the worft founded of all reproaches. It often runs into the other 
extreme, and is, in fome refpedls, more fervilethan that of Pagninus. 
To me its chief defedls appear to be an impure and barbarous La- 
tinity, an affefted mode of conftru<5lion, and a ftrange disfigure- 
ment of the Hebrew names, to make them agreeable to the Mafo- 
retic pundluation. 

The famous Cardinal de Vio Cajetan, who, amidfl a multiplicity 
of ftate affairs, found means to devote a part of every day to feri- 
ous ftudy, left behind him, among other laborious produdlions, a 
tranflation of a great part of the Bible. As he was totally igno- 
rant of the Hebrew, he employed two learned Rabbins, a Jew and 
a Chriftian, as his interpreters ; and having a found judgement 
and difcerning tafte, he fucceeded much better than could be ex- 
pected. But his veriion was formed on this erroneous principle, that 
a tranflation of the Scripture cannot be too literal ; fliould it even, 
for that reafon, be unintelligible. This prepoffeflion made him 
judge unfavorably of the Vulgate; which he often cenfures without 


realbn: for which caufe fome zealots have unjuftly taxed him with 
herefy. His tranflation has much the fame faults with that of Pag- 
ninus ; and may be of much the fame ufe to the Hebrew fludent» 
It was printed, with his commentary, at Lyons in the year 1639. 

At the fame place, in 1650, was publifhed another Latin verfion 
of the Bible, as far as Ezekiel, with a tedious commentary, by Mal- 
venda, a Spanifli Dominican. He did well to add a commentary ; 
for, without it, his tranflation would be often perfeiflly unintelli- 
gible: fo barbarous is his flile, and fo unhappy his choice of ex- 
prefTions. "^ If any one, fays F. Simon, wifhes to have a tranfla- 
" tion of the Scriptures purely grammatical, let him ufe that of 
" Malvenda." I fhould rather fay, is any one madly fond of a 
verfion fervilely literal ? Let him read Malvenda's ; and I fliall won- 
der much, if he be not foon cured of his phrenzy. 

A new Latin verfion of the whole Bible, by Sebaflian Schmidt, 
was publKlied at Strafburg in the year 1696. It is faid to have 
been on the anvil near forty years, and is evidently, laboured with 
great care and pains. It is clear, concife and not inelegant ; and if 
the author had been poiFeft of a better text, and had paid fome more 
attention to the ancient verfions, his work would have been a valu- 
able acccTion to the Biblical library. A more corre<fl edition of 
it was given by the divines of Strafburg, in the year 1 708 : and it 
has been fmce republiflied, in Germany, along with the Hebrew 


John Le Clerc, profeflbr of philofophy, belles lettres and Hebrew 
in the college of the Remonflrants at Amflerdam, and one of the 
mofl univerfal fcholars of his time, publifhed a new Latin verfion 
of the Pentateuch in 1 7 lo. The reft of his tranflation, which com- 
prehends the greateft part of the Holy Scriptures, appeared at dif- 
ferent periods and places ; and a compleat edition of the whole was 
printed at Amfterdam in 1731. Though this verfion has little in 
it to claim a diftinguiflied fupfiriority over thofe that preceded, it 
does not deferve the contempt, with which it is treated by Houbi- 
gant, who feems to have inherited all Simon's prepoffeffions againft 
the author, and omits no opportunity of depretiating his labours. 
Had Le Clerc lived in our days, and been convinced of the neceffity 
of corre<fling the text, before he attempted to tranflate it, he was 
certainly capable of producing a much better work; efpecially if he 
had learnt to write with a little more difficulty, and kept the ope- 
rofa carmhia Jingo of Horace always in mind. But he wrote in too 
great a hurry, and on too many fubjedls, to write excellently on any 
fubjedl ; and, although extremely confident of his own abilities and 
bold in his afTertions, yet was unaccountably, more or lefs, a flave 
to rabbinical prejudices. 

To fhake of thefe entirely, and to open a new and rational career 
to the Biblical critic, was referved for Houbigant. That truly 
learned man, who died only in 1783, in the ninety eighth 
year of his age, had early applied to the ftudy of the Oriental Ian- 


guages, in a foclety where they have long been cultivated with great 
fuccefs. Having learned the Hebrew according to Malclef 's new 
method, and compiled an excellent little dictionary, on the fame 
principles, under the title of Racines Hebraiques fans point s-'voy elks, 
he formed the plan of a new verfion of the Old Teftament; not 
from the prefent printed Maforetic copies, which Capellus and 
others had fo invincibly proved to be erroneous; but from a copy 
corrected by fuch means, and from fuch fources of emendation, as 
he conceived the moft likely to anfwer the purpofe; and which are, 
in general, the fame that have been fpecificd in the former part of 
this Profpeclus. With what ingenuity and judgment he has exe- 
cuted the great deiign, is well known to thofe who have perufed his 
work. Nothing can exceed the purity, fimplicity, perfpicuity and 
energy of his tranflation; and if he has not always been equally 
happy in his conjedlural emendation of the text, it cannot be de- 
nied that he has, at leaft, carried away the palm from all thofe who 
preceded him in the fame career. The clamors that have been 
raifed againft him are the clamors of illiberal ignorance, or of par- 
tiality to a fyftem which he had turned into ridicule. While his 
mode of interpreting is approved and imitated by a Lowth, a 
Kennicott, a Mlchaelis and a Starck, the barkings of inferior critics 
will not much injure him. Houbigant's verlion, accompanied 
with the Hebrew text of Vanderhooght, prolegomena and critical 
notes, was publifted in the moft fplendid manner at Paris, between 



the years 1747 J^nd ^753^ "'^ ^'^"^' folio volumes; and is already be- 
come a rare and coftly book *. 

Befides thofe general Latin verfions, we have a great many others 
of fome particular books or parts of books, by Zuinglius, Oecolam- 
padius, Melanchton, Drufius, Pifcator, Mufculus, Mafius, Terfer, 
Brentius, Bolducius, Juftiniani, Felix Pratenfis, Pellicanus, Gene- 
brard, De-Muis, Ferrandus, Cocceius, Leufden, &c. of all which 
the induftrious tranflator will avail himfelf, as far as he has it in 
his power ; and from all which he may adually gather fome grains 
of fterling ore. 

What has been fald of modern Latin, is equally applicable to 
modern vernacular tranflations. They are all caft, as it were, in 
the fame mould; all fcrupuloufly literal verfions of the fame faulty 
originals, and, almoft always, under the guidance of Pagninus. 
The moft diflinguilhing chara6lers of thofe we are acquainted with 
fhall be given in very few words. 

The firft vernacular verfion made in Europe from the originals, 
is the German of Luther. It was publifhed, in parts, between the 
years 1522 and 1533; and, for the firft time, all together in 1535. 
Since that time it has been often reprinted, with various corredlions 
and interpolations, to adapt it to the different communions in Ger- 
many ; and even tranflated, as an architype, into other Teutonic 

* The verfion was publifhed feparately in feven volumes large oftavo ; and there is a third 
edition of the Pfalms in twelves, along with the Vulgate, of the year 1755. 


dialecfls. It is certainly a wonderful produ(5lion. If it be confi- 
dered in what turbulent times, and amidft what variety of other 
avocations it was made, we are at a lofs to comprehend how one 
man, who had no model to follow, (for Ulenberg's barbarous ver- 
sion from the Vulgate cannot be fo called) could, in fo fhort a fpace 
and with fuch fcanty helps, accomplifhfo great a work. The Catho- 
lics and Calvinifts have often decried it without reafon ; and more, 
perhaps, out of odium to its author than from a regard for truth. 
There are, indeed, fome paflagesin the firfl editions, which hefeems 
to have wrefted a little, to make them fpeak more explicitly his fa- 
vorite tenet of juflification by faith alone. But thefe were few in 
number, and were redlified in pofterior editions. That of the year 
1542 was carefully revifed by himfelf, with the affiftance of fome 
of the mod learned men of that age ; * and again juft before his 
death in 1545. 

Althougli the language of Luther's verlion had already in i 6 84 
become fo obfolete, that a glolTary was found necefTary for under- 
ftaading it; and although it may be eafily fuppofed, that a cen- 
tury more, in tlie prcfent progrefs of the German tongue, has gi- 
ven it a ftlil more antique mien ; yet it retains, in a great meafure, 
its firll celebrity ; and has not only triumphed over all former at- 

* Melanchtnn, Julius Jonas, Cruciger, Bugenhafius, Zcigler, Fordenius, Rorarius. By 
tlicfe it was collated not onh' with the Hebrew text, but alio with tlie Chaklec paraphrafes 
and tlie Greek and Latin verfions : for we liave already obferved that the abfurd idea cf 
Maforetic infallibility had not yet been adopted by the reformers. 

L 2 


tempts to fuperfede it, but is, at this day, preferred by many Ger- 
mans to their latcefl verfions. 

This, however, cannot, I think, be long the cafe : for if any man 
be eqvial to a good tranflation of the Bible, it is furely Michaelis. 
His erudition, tafte and judgment are well known in the literary 
world by his numerous and various produ(flions ; and his verfion 
of the Old Teflament, w^hich is now happily concluded, muft ap- 
pear to thofe, who can relifla all its beauties, one of the bell that 
ever was made. He has, I know, been blamed for deviating too 
widely from the letter of his text. But his apology is obvious : he 
tranflated to be underftood ; and if he cannot be convitfled of hav- 
ing miflaken or mifreprefentcd the meaning of his author, he can^ 
not furely be, withjuftice, cenfured for confulting the pleafure and 
profit of his reader. But it is impoffible to pleafe fome critics, 
becaufe they will not be pleafed. Michaelis is not a blind admirer 
of the IMafora, and cannot be brooked by thofe who are. 

The Belgic and other northern churches had, for fome time, no 
other verfion of the Scripture, but that of Luther; tranflated into 
their refpeiftive tongues, and altered, from time to time, by every 
new editor. But the States General of Holland, in confequence 
of a decree of the Synod of Dort, ordered a new Dutch tranflation 
to be made from the originals ; which was publiflied in the year 
1636. A particular account of it may be read in Leufden *, who 
gives it much mere than due praife. 

• Fhilol. Hcbr. miit. diflVrt. si. 


In like manner, a new Danifli verfion, by Refenius Bilhop of 
Seelandt, was publiflied by the authority of Chriftian IV. in 1607. 
But the Swedes, I beUeve, have yet no other tranflation than that 
from Luther's, again and again corredled by different hands *. 

The French tranflation, pubUfhed at Neufchatel in the year 1535, 
was the hafty produdlion of OUvetan, aflifted by Calvin ; but it 
was, afterwards, fo often revifed and patched by different perfons, 
that it fcarcely retains any part of its firft texture. After all, it 
is but an indifferent verfion, and very far from that perfedion 
which might have been expelled from the labours of fuch learned 
men as Bertram, Beza, Jaquemot, Goulart, Marez, Martin, &c. 
Some particular paffiges, however, I have found better rendered in 
it, than in any other Maforetic verfion. 

Another French tranflation, by Diodati, was publiflied at Gene- 
va in 1644, and was well received by the Calvinifls. It is not fo 
literal as that of OUvetan, but much more elegant and perfpicuous ; 
which is the more to be wondered at, as the author was an Itali- 
an, and the fame perfon who had, fome years before, given a 
moft elegant Italian tranflation ; of which, in the fequd. 

In fine, Le Cene's verfion, after a new plan of his own, appear- 
ed in 1707, but did not meet with the reception he expe(fi:ed. His 
Trojet, which was tranflated into Englilli by Hugh Rofs, and 

* I am informed by Mr. WoiJe that a new Swedifli verfion of the Bible has been lately 
made; and that it is a very good one. 


bafely publifhed as an original work, contains many good obfer- 
vations, and fome excellent rules for tranflating well : but to thefe 
he fecms not to have always paid due attention himfelf ; and his 
tranflation may be faid, like Pope's woman, to have no uniform 
character at all. He is, fometimes, too fcrupuloufly literal ; and, 
fometimes, too free a paraphraft. His ftile is incorredl, his didlion 
impure, his expreffions often trite and ill-chofen, and as often af- 
fecfledly neoterical. It muft, however, be allowed, that he has 
more frequently hit on the true meaning of his original, than any- 
French tranflator that went before him ; that he is never, or rare- 
ly, obfcure; and that he is very feldom biafTed by party prejudices. 

Since Le Gene's verfion, feveral particular parrs of the Bible have 
either been newly tranflated, or improved on the Geneva verfion, 
by Le Clerc, Saurin, Beaufobre, Chais and other French Calvinifts 
in Holland. 

Bruccioli's Italian verfion from the originals, or rather from the 
Latin of Pagninus, was firft publiflied at Venice in 1532 ; but the 
/. btfh edition is that of Zanetti in 1540'. This verfion was interpo- 
lated, and adapted to the Vulgate, by Marmochini ; whofe edition, 
dedicated to the Bifliop of Rodez, appeared in 1538. It was alfo 
corre.dled and improved by Ruflicius, and publiflied at Geneva in 
I 562. With all thefc pretended alterations, corrections and im- 
provements, it is itill but a poor tranflation, compared with, that 
■of Diodatl, which was firfl: publifhed at Geneva in 1607, There 


is an elcgaace and eafe in this tranflation that are extremely plea- 
fant to the reader, joined with a concifenefs, which one fhould 
think hardly compatible with eafe and elegance. F. Simon great- 
ly injures him, when he iays, he is rather a paraphraft than a 
tranflator ; but this is not the only rafh aflertion, which that Father 
has made. 

Although the Spanifli be, perhaps, of all the European tongues, . 
that in which the Scriptures would appear in their greateft dignity; 
we have, as yet, no Spanifli verfion of them that deferves much 
notice. Thofe made by the Jews are barbarous beyond conception *, 
and that of De Reyna, with all De Valera's improvements, is little 
more than a fervile verfion from the Latin of Pagninus and Leo 

But to what degree of perfe«5llon a Spanifli verfion is capable 
of being carried, is evident from a tranflation of the book of Job, 
made, near two hundred years ago, by F. Luis de Leon.f I know 

* The only compleat Spanifh verfion of the Hebrew Bible, made by Jews, is that publiflied 
atFerrara in 1553; of which the Pentateuch -had before been printed at Conftantlnople, in 
rabbinical Hebrew charadlers. From thefe, the Pentateuch and Aptharoth of Manaffeh-ben- 
Ifrael, differ but very litde. They are ufeful only as gloflaries. 

f Luis de Leon was an Auguflinian friar, and interpreter of the Scripture in the Unlverlity 
of Salamanca. He publifhej, in his own life time, or rather his friends publifhed without 
his knowledge, an excellent Spanifh tranflation of tlie Song of Solomon ; for which he fuffered 
five years imprifonment, in the dark and inaccefEble dungeons of the Inquifition. But thofe 
miferable times are happily over ; and his Job, which had been long known in manufcript, 
was printed at Madrid, with all neceflary privileges in 1779 ; together with his learned com- 
mentary, and another poetical verfion, which in many places rivals the fublimity of the origi- 
nal. There is a tolerable Spanifh tranflation of Pindar by the fame author. 


not if there be, in any language, a verfion that, to the (Irideft fide- 
lity, joins fo much elegance, precifion and perfpicuity. 

I can fay very little of the tranflations that have been made into 
other European dialecls ; becaufe I am not in the leaft acquainted 
with the languages in which they are written. But I am informed 
by thofe who are, that they differ not much from our Englilli ver- 
iion ; which to fome of them ferved as a model. They are all 
flritflly Maforetical ; except that which was made, fome years ago, 
into Manks; in the forming of which, I have been told by one of 
the tranflators *, attention was paid to the various ledions of ma- 
nufcripts and other fources of emendation. 

As Lewis has given a detailed, though confufed, hiftory of Eng- 
lifli Bibles, down to the year 1730; I fliall only make a few re- 
marks on the principal verfions; and add a catalogue of luch whole, 
or partial tranflations, as have fince been attempted. 

The firfl compleat edition of an Englifh vei^fion of the whole 
Bible, from the originals, is that of Tyndal's and Coverdale's to- 
gether f. It was printed abroad in 1537, and known by the name 
of Matthew's Bible. The violent oppofition, it had met with at 
home, feems to have arifen more from the injurious reflections, 
.contained in the prologues and notes, on the then eftabliflied reli- 
gion, than from any capital defedls in the verfion itfelf. It was 

* The reverend Mr. Kelly of Windfor. 

f From Gencfis to the end oi' Chronicles, and the book of Jonah, are by Tyndal; the reft 
of the Old Tellamcnt by Coverdale. The whole New Teltament is Tyndal's. 


far from being a perfedl tranflatlon, it is true; but it was the firfl 
of the kind; and few firft tranflations will, I think, be found pre- 
ferable to it. It is, aftonifliing how little obfolete the language of 
it is, even at this day; and, in point of perfpicuity and noble fim- 
plicity, propriety of idiom and purity of flile, no Englifli verfion 
has yet furpafTed it. The criticifms of thofe who wrote againft it 
(we are forry to find Sir Thomas More among them) are generally 
too fevere, often captious and fometimes evidently iinjuft. Of 
terms nearly fynonymous, Tyndal may have poflibly chofen thofe 
that wcremoft favourable to his own religious notions ; and, when his 
original admitted a double fignification, preferred that which feem- 
ed the lead favourable to the tenets he had renounced. This was, 
doubtlefs, a partiality which every tranflator ought carefully to a- 
void ; but how few tranflators have always been fufficiently on 
their guard againft its influence. 

It was an idle affeclation in Tyndal to tranflate Q'uerfect\ 
elder, congregation, inflead of biJJjop, priejl, church ; as the latter, al- 
ready become familiar Englilh words, are, in reality, of the fame 
import with thofe he fubftituted in their place; and there is no 
more diverfity between the terms, (to ufe an expreflion of Cover- 
dale) than httwQQn four-pence and a groat. It was unfair, and per- 
haps infidious, in him, to put image for idol, ordinance for tradition, 
fecret for myjlery or facrament : but thefe, and fuch like offenhve 
terms, might have been eafily correcfted ; nor was it, for that, either 



neceffarv or expedient to commit the whole work to the flame- : 
which ferved only to enhance its value, and gave it a greater cur- 
rencv. Burning fufpicious books is the readiefl way to multiply 
them; as perfecuting for religion is the furell mean of propagat- 
ing it. 

Cranmer's great Bible, and all the other Bibles that were pu- 
blilhed during the reigns of Henry VIII. and Edward VI. are only- 
ib many improved copies of Tyndal's and Coverdale's tranflation. 
In fome of them the additions that are found in the Greek or in 
the Latin Vulgate, though not in the prefent original, were judici- 
oufly inferted ; either in a fmaller characfler, or with fome diftin- 
guiiliing mark. Tyndal's prologues and notes were alfo generally 
omitted ; and fome of the moft exceptionable words altered. The 
editions revifed by Taverner recede the fartheft from their proto- 
type, and are, therefore, the worft. 

In Mary's days, the Englifli refugees at Geneva fet about making 
a new tranflation, the model of which feems to have been the French 
one of Olivetan, lately revifed by Calvin and Beza. Hence, and 
becaufe it was accompanied with marginal notes of the lafl men- 
tioned author, it is known by the name of Beza's Bible. It be- 
came the favorite verfion of the puritan party, and went through a 
great many editions, during the reigns of Elizabeth and James ; 
fome of which are pofterior even to the laft revifion of the Bible. 
But as the quarter it came from, and the perfons who were con- 


cerned In it, made it obnoxious to the Epifcopalians, it was never 
received as a public ftandard. King James, in the famous con- 
ference at Hampton Court, pronounced it to be the worft of all 
Englifh tranflations ; yet his own tranilators borrowed more plen- 
tifully from it, than from any other; and, to fay the truth, as a 
mere Maforetic verfion, it has confiderable merit. 

In 1586 was publifhed Parker's, or the Bifliops Bible, which 
was appointed to be read in churches, as Cranmer's had been be- 
fore. The greatefl objedlion made to this tranilation was, that it 
deviated too much from the original, in favour of the Greek and 
Latin veriions. This, we apprehend, would not, at prefent, be 
accounted a great defe<5l; for the deviations from the original are 
rarely unwarranted ; or, rather, they are only deviations from cor- 
rupted copies, or rabbinical comments. But, at that time, the idea 
had begun to prevail, that the Maforetic text was inviolably to be 
adhered to; and this was, probably, the chief caufe, why the Bi- 
fliops Bible was fo little prized, and fo foon fuperfeded *. 

For, on King James's acceflion to the throne of England, a new 
tranflation was immediately projedled, and finifhed in the fpace of 
three or four years; although it was not publifhed till 161 1, when, 
bj/ his Majeftys fpecial command, it was appointed to be read in 

* This tranflation having become extremely rare, a new edition of it was announced by 
Hogg in the year 1778: but tliis edition is a mere counterfeit; being an exaft tranfcript of 
the Geneva Bible. 

M 2 


churches; and has continued, ever fince, to be the public authori- 
zed verfion. 

The means and the method employed to produce this tranllation, 
promifed fomething extremely fatisfa<5lory ; and great expecftations 
were formed from the united abilities of fo many learned men, fe- 
ledled for the purpofe, and excited to emulation by the encourage- 
ment of a munificent Prince, who had declared himfelf the patron 
of the work. Accordingly, the highefl eulogiums have been made 
on it, both by our own writers and by foreigners * ; and, indeed, 
if accuracy, fidelity and the flridleft attention to the letter of the 
text, be fuppofed to conflitute the qualities of an excellent verfion, 
this of all verfions muft, in general, be accounted the moft excel- 
lent. Every fentence, every word, every fyliable, every letter and 
point feem to have been weighed with the niceft exadtitude, and 
cxpreffed, either in the text or margin, with the greatcft precifion. 
Pagninus himfelf is hardly more literal, and it was well remark- 
ed by Robertfon, above a hundred years ago, that it may ferve for 
a lexicon of the Hebrew language, as well as for a tranflation. 

It is, however, confcffedly not without its faults. Befide thofe^ 
that are common to it with every verfion of that age, arlfing from 

* F. Simon's Critique of this verfion is little to be regarded. He owns he had no other 
way of judging of it, but from fome fcraps tranflateJ into Latin or French. It was thus the 
younger Racine criticized Milton; and thus that Voltaire, from whom better might have 
been e.xpeded (as he had atoleiabk knowledge of the Englifli) criticized a writer he was not 
able to imitate. 


faulty originals and Maforetic prepofTeffions, its own intrlnfic and 
peculiar blemifhes appear to be the following. 

Firfl:, from a fuperftitious attention to render the Hebrew and 
Greek into literal Engliih, its authors adopted modes of exprefficn, 
which are abhorrent from the Engliih idiom ; and, perhaps, from 
that of all other modern tongues. Our ears, indeed, are now ac- 
clillomed to this phrafeology ; and the language is become familiar 
to \is, by being the language of the national religion : but a proof 
that many of thofe exprelTions are neither natural nor analogous^ is, 
that they have never yet been able to force their way into common 
ufage, even in converfation ; and he, who ihould employ them, 
v/ould be fuppofed to jeer at Scripture, or to affect the language of 
fanaticifm. In fhort, what Selden faid of it is flri^ly true. " It 
" is rather tranflated into Engliln words, than into Englifh phrafe." 
From the fame caule, it is, in many places, obfcure and ambigu- 
ous, where a fmall variation in the arrangement of the words, 
would, have made it clear and unequivocal. 

Secondly, there is a manifefl want of uniformity in the mode of 
tranflating *. This was, indeed, unavoidable. The different parts 
of the Bible were afligned to fo many different perfons, or at le.ifl 

* Dr. Myks Smith, who wrote tlie preface, feems to have been lenfible of this, when he 
apologizes, in a certain manner, for a want of " Identity of phrazing." This diiference is 
obfervable, not only in the different portions of Scripture affigned to the different claffes; but 
oftf n in the fame portion, not fcldom in the fame book, and fometimes even in the fame chi'.p- 
ter, and fame verfe. 


to fo many difFerent forums ; and although the whole was ulti- 
mately committed to the revifal of fix perfons, affembled for the 
purpofe, it does not appear, that they made any great change in 
its firft texture. When we confider, that they were only nine 
months about this revilion, we cannot well look for a rigorous ex- 
-amination of the fidelity of the verfion ; much lefs, for a reduction 
of its flile to the fame colour and complexion *. The books cal- 
led Apocrypha are, in general, I think, better tranflated than the refl 
of the Bible ; for which one reafon may be, that the tranflators of 
them were not cramped by the fetters of the Mafora. 

Thirdly, Kiiig James's tranflators iniftook the true meaning of 
a great many words and fentences by depending too much on mo- 
dern lexicons, and by paying too little attention to the ancient ver- 
flons. Many of thofe miflranflations have been noted and rectified 
by different commentators, but m.any ftill remain unnoticed, and 
feem to cry for amendment. 

Fourthly, in compliance with a novel opinion, that not a word 
nor particle fhould be in a vernacular verfion, that has not another 
word and particle, exadlly correfponding with it, in the Hebrew ; 
and, at the fame time, to prevent an obfcurity, which would be the 
neceffary confequence of that mode of tranflating ; perhaps, alfo, 
to obviate the reproaches of want of fidelity, that had been thrown 

* It was again revifed by Bifhop Bilfon and Dr. Smith ; but what they did, or how long they 
were employed in this revifal, I have not been able to learn. 


out againfh the Biihops Bible, both by the Catholics and the Pu- 
ritans ; they encumbered their verfion with a load of ufelefs Italics i 
often without the lead neceflity, and almoft always to the detri- 
ment of the text. In facft, either the words in Italics are vir- 
tually implied in the Hebrew, or they are not. In the for- 
mer cafe they are a real part of the text, and fhould be prin- 
ted in the fame charader : in the latter, they are generally ill af- 
forted and clumfy ekes, that m.ay well be fpared ; and which often 
disfigure the narration under pretence of connecfling it *. 

Fifthly, King James's tranflators, like all the tranflators of their 
day, were too much guided by theological fyftera ; and feem, on 
fome occafions, to have allowed their religious prejudices to have 
gotten the better of their judgment. To point out examples, would 
he an invidious tafic : but it is extremely proper that every tranfla- 
tor fhould have them conftantly in view, as fo many cautionary me- 
mentos to himfelf. 

In fine, through the ccnftant fluduation and progrefs of ILving^ 
languages, there are many words and phrafes, in the vulgar verfion, 
now become obfolete ; a fpecimen of which may be feen in Pilking- 
ton's judicious Remarks, publiflied at Cambridge in i759f. The 

* Since writing the above, I am happy to find that the late Archbifhop Seeker was of the 
fame opinion. In his valuable manufcript notes on the Bible, to which, through tlie libera- 
lity of his prefeni worthy fucceffor, I have had the moft free and convenient accefs; he has 
dafhed over many thoufands oi Italia, in the copy of the Englifh Bible he ufed; and, hardly 
ever without fome improvement to the paflage. 

f There is in the Critical Review (vol. xviii. page loi) a lift of words and phrafes, which 


coaftrudllon, too, is frequently lefs grammatical, than the prefent 
ftate of our language feems to require; and thearrangement of words 
and fentences is often fuch as produces obfcurity or ambiguity. 

Literal as James's tranllation is, it did not appear fo to Gell, 
Canne and Ainfworth, The two firfl projected, and the lall partly 
executed a new verfion, which was publiilied in a folio volume in 
1639*, It w^as formed, like Cajetan's Latin verfion, on this ab- 
furd principle, that the Scripture cannot be tranflated too literally ; 
that every word and particle, nay the very arrangement of words 
and particles are full of myftery, and ought to be preferved with 
the greatell attention. We are aftoniihed to find in a book writ- 
ten by a man of learning this flrange pofition; " The Holy Spirit 
*' of God often intends a myftery, and fo leaves the letter feem- 
" ingly abfurd: fuch feeming abfurdities are left for the honour of 
"■ God's Spirit, which clears the diiEculties and fets all right f. 

But what fhall we fay of thofe, who, at a much more enlightened 
period, have adopted the fame fervile plan? In the year 1773, was 

the authors deemed obfolete or improper ; fome of which, however, are ftill ufed by good 
writers. As.for the long catalogue of words in Purver's appendix, there are at leaft two tliirds 
of them not only not obfolete, but often more proper than thofe he would fubftitute in their 
place. Indeed, we ought not eafily to rejedl a term, becaufe it is not, perhaps, of the firft fa- 
fliion; efpecially if itbe exprelTive, euphonic, and fufficLently removed from vulgarity. The 
nomenclature of our language is not yet fo very copious, as to need to be diifliniflied. 

* It contains only the Pentateuch, the Plalms and the Song of Solomon. They had been 
fepar.ttely publifhed before. 

t Dr. Cell's preface to an Elfay toward the amendment of the lad Englilh iranCation of 
the Bible; printed at London in the year 1569. 


pitbllllied a new verfion of the Pentateuch, Jofliua, Judges, and the 
four books of Kings. It was a pofthumous work of Julius Bate, 
and is faid, in the editor's preface, to have been the refult of " more 
" than thirty years indefatigable application to the ftudy of the 
*' Hebrew fcriptures." He was undoubtedly well verfed in the 
Hebrew language, though he feems to have paid too little regard 
tc the kindred dialers * : but his learning was deeply imbued 
with enthufiafm; and, on running from one ridiculous fyftem, he 
eagerly embraced another. He defpifed the rabbinical but ad- 
mired the Hutchinfonian Cabbala! It mull, however, be confefled 
that he has tranflated many particular words and fentences with 
great propriety ; and his divifions are frequently more natural than 
thofe of the Maforetes. 

In the year 1 764, Anthony Purver publifhed his Nenv and lite- 
ral tranjlation of all the books of the Old and Neiv Tejlament^ iv'xth 
notes critical and explanatory. This is faid to have been the work of 
thirty years ; and, indeed, it carries on the very face of it undeni- 
able proofs of much reading and infinite labour. After all it is 
but a rude, incondite and unfhapely pylej without order, fymme- 
try or tafte. It has not even that fingle indifferent quality which 
the Critical Reviewers too indulgently allow it to poflefs ; that of 
exhibiting a faithful copy of the Maforetlc text ; which, I aver, is 
much more accurately reprefented by the common tranflation. I 

* See preface to his Hebrew diiflionary. 



have pafled this judgment on the honeft, but not too modeft Qua- 
ker the more freely, becaufe he hunfelf is a mofl defperate critic 
who fpares no one, and dares his competitors to enter the Ufts with 
him. The beft we can fay of him, is what Ovid fays of Phaeton. 
He attempted what was above his forces, and bravely failed in 
the attempt — magnis tamen excidit avfis. Bad as this verfion is, a 
tranflator muft not think it beneath his notice: it may occafionally 
be ufeful to him. He will very often fee by it, what he is to Ihun ; 
and fometimes what he may imitate. In a field over-nm with coc- 
kle, he may, now and then, find an ear of good wheat. 

Befide thofe general tranflations, we have fmaller portions of 
Holy writ, tranflated by different hands, fince the beginning of 
this century, which it may not be here improper to mention. 

A tranflation of the book of Genefis, by John Lookup, Efq. 
was publiihed in the year 1 740, and dedicated to the Archbifhop 
of Canterbury. He feems to have ftudied, with attention, the 
genius of the original; and, in fome places, has well expreffed its 
meaning: but there is a ftrange Angularity in his choice of terms, 
that often excites furprifc, and fometimes rifibility. 

A new verfion of the three firfl chapters of Genefis with margi- 
nal illuflrations and critical notes, was given by Abraham Dawfon 
in 1763 ; and foon after a verfion of the fourth and fifth chapters. 
Why the Critical Reviewers ftiould think this eflay the work of a 
Deift, I cannot well conceive. The author is certainly a learned 


man, and a judicious crick; and we wifli he had proceeded in the 
fame career. 

Mr. Green of Cambridge pubUilied in 1762, his new tranflation 
of the Pfalms, and in 1781 the poetical parts of the Old Tefta- 
ment: in both which works he has difplayed much learning, judg- 
ment and tafte. We have only to regret that he paid fo much 
deference to the Harian fyftem of Hebrew metre. 

Still a model was wanting that fhould claim every fuffrage, and 
merit univerfal applaufe. Need I inform my intelligent rea- 
der that fuch a model at length appeared in the year 1779; when 
Bifliop Lowth favoured the public with his new tranflation of I- 
faiah ? never did facred criticifm appear with greater dignity than 
in this invaluable work. Never were the gentleman, the fcholar, 
the grammarian and the theologue more happily united. 

So rare an example, fet by fuch a chara(5ler, could not fail to 
be copied. Mr. Benjamin Blayney, Riedlor of Polfhott in Wilts, 
has lately publifhed a tranflation of Jeremiah, on the fame plan ; 
and with great fuccefs. I trufl: he is now employed in fome other 
fimilar work. 

On the fame plan Bifliop Newcome is labouring on the Minor 
Prophets ; and great expedations are juftly formed, from his well 
known abilities and acumen *. 

* Bifhop Newcome's tranflation has appeared ; a moft learned and valuable worlc, of which 
I am happy torhave it in my power to avail myfelf, and from which, I forefee, I fhall derive 

N 2 


Mr. Hopkins, Vicar of Bolney, has given a corredled edition cf 
the vulgar verfion of the book of Exodus ; in which he has judicir 
oufly inferted the Samaritan and Septuagint fupplements ; when he 
had reafon to think them genuine. His notes are fliort but gene- 
rally appofite. May neither " age nor infirmity" prevent him 
from " profecuting fuchufeful ftudies *." 

We have feveral Englifli tranflations of the Song of Solomon ; 
fome in verfe and feme in profe ; and mod of them have confider- 
able merit. We have, likewife, poetical verfions of Job, the Pfalms, 
and other detached parts of Scripture ; which may be occafion- 
ally ufeful to a profe-tranflator : and there are a number of par- 
ticular paflages, throughout the whole Bible, well rendered and ex- 
plained, in various critical Commentaries, EiTays, LecSlures and 
Sermons ; of which a general coUcdlion would be of great utility. 

Of the New Teftament, beiide the verfion, already mentioned, 
of 1729^; we have, fince that, three compleat new tranflations by 

great advantages. I am only forry that I fljould happen to differ from his Lordfliip about 
fome of his Rules of tranflating; or rather about fome of the more remote corroUaries he de- 
duces from them: while, at the fame time his great judgment and taftc, and his eftabhfhed 
charafter as a writer, make me he£tate and doubt about the propriety of fome of my own. 
I fhall confider both at more leifure and with new attention j and weigh his Lordfliip's reafons 
with all poflible care and impartiality. In one rule, at leafti we are perfedtly agreed: " The 
" critical fenfe of paflages fhould be confidered, and not the opinions of any denomination of 
" Cliriftians. The tranflators fhould be philologills, not controverfialifts." 
• • See his preface, p. xv. 


Wynne, Woi fley and Harwood ; two of St. Matthew by Scott and 
Wakefield ; and we foon exped, from the pen of Dr. Campbell, a ca- 
pital work on the four Gofpels. But of all thefe I fhall have occa^ 
fion to fpeak, more at large, in proper time and place. 

A fociety lately formed for promoting the kwwledge of the Scrip' 
tures have already publlfhed fome numbers of Commentaries and Ef- 
fays ; in which, among other things, they propofe to give " an ac- 
" curate tranflation of the paflage to be explained, with proper di- 
" vifions into paragraphs and fentences, and pointed with the ut- 
" moft correcftnefs." We applaud the plan, and heartily wifh them 
fuccefs : may we take the liberty to beg of them, to beware of ^y^ 
ftem *. 

From the above review of the principal verfions made by Pro- 
teflants, it will, I prefume, appear, that their chief and peculiar im- 
perfe6llon is owing to the tranflators having followed too impli- 
citly the Maforetic text, and paid too little regard to the ancient 
verfions. Let us next fee what are the fpecial defed:s of the tran- 
ilations, that have been made by Catholics. 

The number of thefe, indeed, is comparatively fmall j an idea 
having long prevailed, that the Scripture fhould not be tranflated 
into vulgar tongues. It is hard to reconcile this idea with any 
principle of reafon, religion, or found policy; and we muft afcribe 

* The numbers of this work, which are publiflied occafionallf, are fold by Johnfon, in St. 
Paul's church-yard. 


it, with fome other abfurdities, to the ignorance and prejudices of 
a barbarous age. The firft pofitive decree on this fubjecl was for- 
med, I believe, in a diocefan fynod at Thouloufe, in the year 1229; 
and is not the only exceptionable canon devifed by that alTembly. 
In the brighter days of Chriftianity it was not fo. The works of 
Chryfoftome, Bafil, Ambrofe, Jerom, Auftin, are full of the mod 
prefTing exhortations to read the Scripture ; and the reafons that 
have, in latter times, been urged againft that pradice by Mallet 
and other fuch writers * deferve not a ferious anfwer. The pro- 
hibition was fo far from anfwering the end propofed by it ; that it 
had a quite contrary cfFedl. The feparatifts from the church of 
Rome have ufed no weapon with more fuccefs againft her, than this 
one, that was intentionally, but indifcreetly, forged for her parti- 
cular defence. 

It is remarkable, that this dodlrine has chiefly obtained in thofe 
countries, where the Inquifition has been eftabliflied. In France and 
Germany a different fyftem has at all times, more or lefs, prevailed, 
in fpite of the endeavours of fome pragmatic zealots to introduce 
a lefs liberal difcipline. Not to mention a number of manufcript 
verlions, that were in ufe before the invention of typography ; there 
are, at leaft, twelve printed editions of a French Bible prior to that 
of Olivetan, and feveral German ones before Luther's. Nor was 
the prohibitory doctrine always countenanced in Italy. We meet 

* See a book entitled Colk^io auUorum vulgarii verjiones damnantium. Paris 1661. 


with thirteen editions of De Malermi's verfion, in the fpace of lefs 
than half a century ; and all anterior to the aera of the Reformation. 
From the difpoiition of the prefent intelligent Pontiff, and from his 
exprefs declai'ation, That the Scriptures " are fources to which all 
" ought to have free accefs, in order to draw from them, both a 
*' found do(5lrine and a pure morality," * we have reafon to expedl, 
that Italian Bibles will foon be as common on the other, as French 
Bibles are on this fide of the Alps. 

Another general prejudice among the Catholics was, that they 
mud tranflate from the Latin Vulgate. This, indeed, was at one 
time neceffary : for there were few or none capable of tranflating 
from the originals : but why the fame pradlice was continued, after 
the revival of Greek and Hebrew learning, is harder to account for; 
though the following probable caufes may be afligned. 

One, perhaps, was, that they might not be thought to imitate 
the new reformers ; who affecled to cry up the originals, in propor- 
tion as they cried down the Vulgate. Oppofition, we know, .be- 
gets oppofition. 1 have read a book written by a Neapolitan Jefuit, 
in which he gravely returns thanks to Heaven, that he was ignorant 
of Greek and Hebrew ; for that the knowledge of thefe. tongues, 
was a fure fign of herefy. 

* Optim\ fenti!,Ji Ckriji't fidcla ad ItSlionem divinarum Httrarum magnopere excitandcs exiftimes. 
llli enim funt fontes uberrimi, qui cuiqu: pascre dehtnt, ad hauriendam et morwn et dodrinae fandita- 
Urn. From the Pope's letter to Abbate Martini in 1778, 


But another more fpecious, though not more folld reafon, for 
tranllating from the Latin, was derived from the Council of Trent s 
having declared it to be an authentic verfion. This, as I have al- 
ready faid, was by many conflrued into an abfolute and exclufive 
authenticity; which gave the Vulgate a preference to the Originals 
themfelves. It is plain, however, from the very tenor of the de- 
cree, that nothing could be farther from the meaning of the Coun- 
cil : and it has been always allowed by the moft learned of the Ca- 
tholic party, that the Vulgate received no other additional autho- 
rity from the Synod's declaration, but that of being appointed the 
fole public Latin verfion. The Synod did not, could not, give it 
the fmalleft degree of intrinfic value which it had not before : for if 
it was not, before, an authentic verfion, there had been no authen- 
tic verfion in the Latin church for a thoufand years. 

The decree of the Council, then, did nothing more than what has 
been done in moft Proteftant countries : it eftabliflied one particular 
Latin verfion, as a public ftandard ; to be ufed in the church-office 
and in the fchools of divinity : and furely of all Latin verfions, then 
extant, the Vulgate, in every refpedl, deferved the preference. But 
never did it enter into the minds of that or any other council to 
ordain, that any verfion, however excellent, fhould fupplant the 
originals ; or that no other tranilation fhould be made from them. 
The only plaufible reafon that can be offered for tranflating 
from the Latin, rather than from the originals is, that, the Vulgate 


having been once adopted as the public Latin verfion, uniformity 
feemed to require that all vernacular verlions fliould be confonant 
thereto. But if this motive had unluckily influenced St. Jerom, 
we Ihould at this day have no Vulgate : for, from the fame principle, 
he would have been obliged to tranflate from the Greek ; which 
had been much more generally received, as a public Ilandard, than 
ever the Latin was. 

It is well known, that there are many pafTages in the Vulgate 
badly rendered. It is alfo allowed that other faults have crept into 
it, fince the days of its author; many of which were not corredled, 
even by the lafl revifors : are we to tranflate thefe faults, and re- 
tain thofe renderings, for the fake of uniformity ? When the Vul- 
gate and the originals agree, which is generally the cafe, a tranfla- 
tion, made from the latter, will neceffarily be confonant with the 
former; and, at the fame time, vouch for its fidelity. Where the 
originals are manifeflly, or probably, corrupted, whilft the Vulgate 
manifeftly, or probably, reads right ; ftill a good tranllation will 
agree with the Vulgate : but is it in the leafl reafonable that, where 
the Vulgate is manifeflly, or probably, erroneous, the tranllation 
ihould be erroneous too ? He muft be a llurdy Viilgatift indeed, 
who maintains fo ridiculous a pofition. 

The very idea of tranflating from a tranflation is a ftrange idea. 
We have an excellent French verfion of Plutarch, by Amyot: but 
would any Englifhman fit down to tranflate Plutarch through the 



medium of Amyot's verfion? Or could we bear a tranflation of 
Q. Curtius, even from the admired verfion of Vaugelas ? In the 
very firft transfufion, from one idiom to another, fome part of the 
author muft necefTarily evaporate : how much more muft he lofe, 
on a fecond or third operation * ? 

But moft Catholic tranflators have not only tranflated from the 
Vulgate, but made their verfions more fervilely literal than was ne- 
cefTary, even If they had tranflated Immediately from the originals. 
This is the more aftonifliing, becaufe the Vulgate is a free and liberal 
verfion; and, as flir as Jerom is concerned, not altogether inelegant: 
whereas the tranflations that have been made from It, if we except 
one or two, are ftiff and barbarous beyond conception. Hence 
they are often unintelligible "j". It would be, moreover, eafy to 
fhew that the greateft part of thofe, who have tranflated from the 
Vulgate, have very often miflranflated it, from not underllanding 
or not attending to the originals. The words of the Vulgate are 
Latin words, it is true ; but they have fometlmes fo uncommon 
acceptations, and are fo peculiarly phrazed, that it requires a 
thorough acquaintance with the Oriental ftile and knowledge of 

* Some parts of the VvJgate are tranflations, from tranflations. 

f «' A clofe tranflation made at fecond hand from a free one muft carry with it a ftrong 
" tinflure of the, medium through which it has pafFed; at the fame time that it has no chance of 
" recovering any thing that may have been loft of the native and genuine colour of the firft 
" compofition." See a fenfible letter totlie Critical Reviewers, vol. xxix. page 78. 


the Oriental tongues, to comprehend their meaning ; particularly in 
the poetical books. 

It is evident, I think, from what has been faid, that a tranflator, 
who works on the originals, can derive but little help from verfions 
made from the Vulgate : and therefore I will not detain the reader 
with a long enumeration of them. 

I have feen but four French tranflations made from the Latin : 
that of Louvain, that of Benoit, that of Corbin, and that of Safi. 
The firft two are little more than the Geneva verfion accommodated 
to the Vulgate: the third is beneath criticifm : the lafl is an elegant, 
fecondary, verfion ; and has, with very little variation, been a text- 
book to all the French commentators for a century pad. It appears, 
however, to be too much a paraphrafe ; and feldom retains the 
limplicity and dignity, even of the Vulgate verfion *. 

Until the year 1 750, the German Catholics had no tolerable ver- 
fion of the Bible. That of Dietenberg is a bad tranfcript, or ra- 
ther miferable interpolation, of Luther's; and Ulenberg's is difguft- 
ingly literal and obfcure. But, at the forementioned period, a new 
tranflation was publiflied by the Benedi<5lines of Ettenheim-Mun- 
fter, under the dire(5lion of F. Cartier, which is, I think, the beft 
tranflation from the Vulgate, that has yet been made. The reafon 

* Sa5y's verfion was revifeJ and republifhed by F. Carrieres, with fhort notes inferted in 
the text, in Italics ; which give it a ftill more rambling, and often even a ludicrous air. 

O 2 

io8 prospectus: 

is obvious: the authors had recourfe to the originals, in all dubious} 
cafes ; and did not ftridlly adhere to the letter of their text*. 

The Flemings have two tolerable verfions, the one by De Witt, 
and the other by Vander-Schuren : but the French language has^ 
for fomc time part, been fo much cultivated by them, that Safi's^ 
Bible is almoft as frequently to be met with in the French Nether- 
lands as in France itfelf. 

There are two or three old Italian tranflations made from the 
Vulgate f ; or adapted to it, from Pagninus's Latin verlion : but 
they have not been reprinted for many years back ; and have, in 
leality, little to recommend them, I have not feen Martini's re- 
cent verfion, but I am informed it is very elegant. 

In Spain there is not, I believe, at this day a fingle edited verfion 
of the whole Bible. That, which was printed in 151 6, was fo 
totally deftroyed, that hardly a copy of it is to be found. Some 
particular books have been lately publilhed ; and it is not to be 
doubted but the reft will foon follow. The torch of learning is 
but newly lighted up in that ingenious nation : but, if we are not 

* Notatidum quod illi viris erudith non falls prohentur qui verfionem Vulgatae iwjirae de verho ad 
verbum adornandam cjfe antumaiii. N'am fraeterquam quod inde facri textus obfcuritaj mimme tol- 
latur, alienum infuper fenfu?}!, fpeBato verlorum tenore, faepius did monifejium eft. Fraefat. in 
Biblla Latino-Germanica. Conftantiae, 1763. 

f That of De Malermi, firft publiflied In the year 1471; that of Marmochini in IJ38, 
and, perhaps, another whofe author is not kno-\vn. See Le Long. 


greatly miftaken, it will foon break forth into a blaze of uncommon 
fulendor *. 

Our Saxon anceflors had vernacular verfions of the Scripture as 
early as the reign of Alfred, who is, himfelf, faid to have been one 
of the tranflators. Some parts of Aelfric's verfion of the Old 
Teflament were publiflied by Thwaites in 1698. And we have 
two different editions of a Saxon New Teftament. All thefe were 
made from the Vulgate. Hampole, Wiclif and Perry tranflated alfo 
from the Latin; though, in fome of their verlions, they noted the 
differences of the Hebrew and Greek, from St. Jerom, Bede and De 
Lyra f.. 

. From the days of Wiclif there was no verfion made from the 
Vulgate until the year 1582; when the Englifli Catholics, who had, 
in. the beginning of Queen Elizabeth's reign, taken refuge in Flan- 
ders, and were now removed to Reims on account of the war, 
publiihed a tranflation of the New Teflament only, in one quarto 
volume. The publication of the Old did not take place till after 
their return to Douay in 1609. Hence the whole verfion, which 

* I am jufl now informed by a gentleman, lately an ived from Spain, that a new Spanifh 
verfion of the whole Scriptures is adua.lly preparing for the prefs; and that, in the mean time, 
De Valeras' tranflation is permitted to be read ; the copies of which are fought with avidity 
and bought up at any price, at Paris, Amfterdam and other places they can be found in. 

f It is a pity the various manufcripts of Wiclif 's tranflation, as well as the more ancient 
Saxon ones, are not carefully collated and publifhed. We fhould, by their means, fee the 
ftateof the Vulgate at different periods, and be able to trace with more certainty the progrefs 
of our language. 


is in three volumes, is known by the name of the Douay Bible, It 
is a literal and barbarous tranflation from the Vulgate, before its 
laft revifion; and accompanied with acrimonious and injurious an- 
notations. Their refidence in a foreign country, and what they 
deemed a cruel exile from their own, had corrupted the tranflator's 
language, and foured their tempers; and it was, unhappily, the 
common cuflom of thofe lamentable times, to feafon every religious 
controverfy with gall and vinegar. We do not find that Withers, 
Fulke and Cartwright, who drew their quills againft the Douay an- 
notators, were a bit more courteous in their retorts. 

The late moft pious Dr. Chaloner revifed the Douay verfion, on 
the Clementine edition of the Vulgate ; greatly curtailed the anno- 
tations J and corre<5led the ftile, chiefly from King James's tranfla- 
tion. There are two editions of this revifion; one in the year 1750, 
and the other in 1 7 64 ; both in five volumes, fmall odtavo. I am 
told another edition is preparing by the gentlemen of the Englifli 
college at Douay; and propofals for republifliing it at Dublin, in 
one quarto volume, are now handed about in London. 

Mr. Caryl, a gentleman who had followed the fortune of King 
James II. publiflied, at St. German's, a new verfion of the Pfalms in 
I 700; in which, taking Bellarmine for his guide, he has often ex- 
prefled the meaning of the Vulgate, much better than the Douay 

In 1719 Dr. Cornelius Nary publiflaed his New Teftament at 


Dublin, in one volume 0(5lavo ; and Dr. Witham's appeared in 1 730, 
in two volumes oClavo. There are many good renderings in both 
thefe verlions. 

Mr. W. Webfler, curate of St. Dunflan's in the vsreft, tranflated the 
New Teflament from the Vulgate, througli the medium of F, Si- 
mon's French verfion, and publifhed it at London, in two volumes 
in quarto, in 1730*- 

I have in my poffeflion. a manufcript New Teftament prepared 
for the prefs, by the late Mr. Robert Gordon of the Scotch college 
at Paris ; in which fome confiderable millranflations of all the pre- 
ceding verfions are noted and recflified *. 

But although the Catholics, in general, have made their verna- 
cular verfions of the Bible from the Vulgate ; they have not done (6^ 
without exception. Two of the forementioned Italian tranflations, 
are profelTedly made from the originals. In France, befides Co- 
durc's verfion of Job, Proverbs, Ecclefiaflicus and the Song of So- 
lomon , we find a tranflation of the Pfalms by Rodolphe le Maitre ; 
another by Ifaac le Maitre, and another by Dupin ; all made from 
the Hebrew in the laft century ; not to mention two compleat ma- 
nufcript verfions of the whole Bible ; one by Dom. Loubineau, a Be- 
nedidline monk ; and the other by F. Feraud of the Oratory *. 

* 1 owe tills verfion to Mr. Marmaduke, an ingenious but not very fortunate bookfeller 
in London ; who has alfo favoured me with his own curious manufcript remarks on the 
Douay Bible, and on Dr. Chaloner's revifion of it. 

f See Le Long, append, ad Blblioth. facram. 


In the year 1737 a new verfion of the Pfalms was publiihed by 
Bom. Maur d'Antine; and in 1739 appeared Le Gros's firft edi- 
tion of The Holy Bible tranjlated from the original texts, with the 
various readings of the Vulgate, &c. printed on a very fmall type, and 
in one thick oiflavo volume. It was republlflied, with the author's 
lafl corredions, at Cologne, in 1753, in fix volumes in twelves. 
In this tranflation the additions of the Vulgate are inferted in the 
fame charaders with the text ; but within crotchets. What is ad- 
ded from other ancient verfions is alfo within crotchets, bvit in Ita- 
lics ; and the fupplements, deemed necefl'ary to correct or illuflrate 
the text, are in Italics, without crotchets. 

About the middle of this century, a fchool of Capuchins was 
formed at Paris, under the dire<5lion of Abbe de Villefroi, for the 
laudable purpofe of elucidating the original Scriptures. The Popes 
Benedict XIV. and Clement XIII. were fo well pleafed with the de- 
fign, that they both teftlfied their approbation by fpecial briefs; 
and the latter honoured the little fociety with the title of Clemen- 
tine. Befides an elegant tranflation of the Pfalms and fome other 
books of the Old Teflament, they have already publifl^ed a great 
many volumes of Trincipcs dijcutes, in which there is much in- 
genuity and coniiderable erudition : but a flrong tin(fi:urc of rab- 
blnifm imbibed from their mauer, and a violent attachment to a 
.Ipecious but deluiive and dangerous lyllem of interpretation, have 
often led them afide from the riffht road, and exnofcd theni to 


the too fevere though juft animadverfions of more rational critics *. 
We have alfo a curious and fanciful French verfion of the Pfalms 
from the Hebrew by Laugeois ; in which, although he has certain- 
ly taken by far too great liberties with his original, and given 
novel and arbitrary fignifications to a number of Hebrew words, 
there are, neverthelefs, many elegant and fome uncommonly happy 

The amiable and pious author of Spe^lacle de la nature left be- 
hind him a French verfion of the Pfalms and fome other fmall por- 
tions of Scripture, which, though profeffedly made from the Vul- 
gate, has a conflant allufion to the Hebrew, and contains fome 
valuable elucidations, efpecially in the notes. 

The laft publiflied French verfion of the Pfalms is that of my 
old condifciple the Abbe Conflant, which appeared in 1783, in four 
volumes in 1 2mo, and has, I am told, confiderable merit. 

But a ftill more important work has been recently announced : 
a French tranflation of the whole Bible by the late F. Houbigant ; 
the publication of which is committed to his learned colleague F. 
Lalande; and will not, we hope, be long delayed. 

Having thus feen Avhat helps a tranflator may derive from for- 
mer verfions, whether in his own or other languages ; let us next 
fee what alfiftance he is likely to receive from interpreters and com- 

* See yugement fur qu:lques traiiu^ioni des Pfcauvies, par L'Advocat. Exa^/ien du Pfeau- 
Skr Ftanfoij dss Peres Capucins, par Houbigant. 


,14 p Tx O S P E C T U S. 

mentators. Indeed if the light thrown upon the Sacred Writing?, 
were in proportion to the number of thofe, who have attempted to 
iUuftrate them, there would not, at this day, remain the leaft fliade 
of obfcurity: all would be obvious, plain and eafy. But of above 
a myriad of names that appear in the long lift of interpreters, nine 
thoufand and nine hundred may, without much detriment, be 
ftruck off; and, even of the remaining hundred, there are hardly 
fifty v/ho are not mere compilators, or fervile copylfts of one ano- 

One, who has not read the Fathers, might be apt to imagine 
that great refources were to be found in their writings. But who- 
ever looks for that, will be miferably difappointed. The Chrlftiaix 
writers of the firft two centuries were men of great probity ; but, 
generally, of little learning and lefs tafte. They tranfmitted to 
pofterity the Depofiium^ which they had received from the Apoftles 
and their immediate fuccelTors, with great honefty, earneftnefs and 
fimplicity ; and recommended the do(5lrines they taught more by 
the fandlty of their lives than by the depth of their erudition. 
They form fo many invaluable links, in the golden chain of uni- 
verfal and Apoftolical tradition ; but they afford very little help to- 
wards clearing up the dark paffages of Scripture. 

The following ages produced a confiderable number of truly 
learned, and of fome very eloquent men ; but few of them had the 
qualifications necefTary to form a good Bible-interpreter. There are 


many excellent homilies on almofl every part of Holy Writ, and 
the jufl: application of an infinite number of particular texts to the 
moft falutary purpofes of injlru^ing, exhorting and reproving^ in the 
volumes of Clement, Cyprian, Cyril, Athanafius, Bafil, Ambrofe, 
Auguftine, Leo and the Gregories of Nazianzum, NifTa and Rome; 
and, in thefe the preacher will always be fure to meet with the bcfl 
•models of true Chriftian eloquence, joined with the foundefl: mo- 
rality. But, if we except Ephrem the Syrian, Origen, Eufebius, 
Theodoret, Chryfoflome, Procopius and Olympiadorus among the 
Greeks ; and Jerom alone among the Latins ; I will venture to fay^ 
that we fhall not eafily find, in all the reft, a thoufand lines that 
one would chufe to copy over, in a modern work of Scripture cri- 
ticifm. They generally contented themfelves with quoting fuch 
copies of the Greek or Latin tranflations as they had at hand; or, 
perhaps, often with quoting fuch parts of them as they could re- 
colledl from memory ; without ever comparing, or being indeed 
able to compare them with the originals : and when they could not 
find a plaufible literal explanation of the text thus quoted, they 
had recourfe to figure and allegory *. 

* This difpofition to allegorize, which has more or lefs prevailed in every age, ought alfo 
to be numbered amongft the caufes of imperfeft tranflations: in as much as it evidently deter- 
mined tranflalors to a(!opt, of tv\0 or more probable renderings, that vhicli moft favoured 
thiir own propenfity. The example and authority of Origen ferved greatly to propagate this 
pernicious cuftom ; from the contagion of which few of the fucceeding Fathers efcaped. The 
works of Ambrofe, Auguftine and the Roman Gregory are full of fuch puerile interpretations: 


In the fucceeding degenerate and dark period, the ftudy of the 
Scripture was much neglecfled ; and more commentaries were mads 
on the Decretals and the Mailer of Sentences, than on Mofes and 
the Prophets : yet the firfl part of this period, which we may call 
the brazen age of Chriftianity, produced a Bede, an Alcuin and a 
Rabanus ; in whofe commentaries, if we find little original, we have, 
at leaft, a tolerable feledlion from prior commentators. But from 
the end of the ninth, to the beginning of the fifteenth century, 
Oecomonlus, Theophyladlus and De Lyra are almoft the only wri- 
ters on this fubje(ft, whofe works deferve a perufaL 

On the revival of letters, a whole legion of glofTarifts, commen- 
tators, and paraphrafts arofe; but not many of them added to the 
former flock of Scriptural knowledge. The conteft was, who 
fhould write the largeft volumes, crowd their pages with the great- 
eft number of quotations, and fay the moft ill-natured things of 
thofe who happened to be of a different opinion. Not only did the 
Catholic and the Protcftant write commentaries for the purpofe of 
confuting one another ; but the Scripture became a common ar- 
fenal, whence the Dominican drew arms againft the Jefuit, the Je- 

but it is aftonifhing to find the acute and rational Jerom fometimes carried away in the comraon 
vortex. Although both the context and the example of the Septuagint fhould have led him 
to tranflate Gen. xxvi. 1 7. " in the valley of Gerar", yet he prefers «' in the torrent of Gerar;" 
for this fine reafon; that Ifaac, after having been ralfed to fuch a pitch of greatnefs, could 
not poffibly have dwelt in a valley. Kiquc aiitn Ijaac, p^Jfquam magnifaatui eP,, in lalle iabi- 
iare potuit. 


;fiiit againft the Dominican, and the Auguftlnian againft both : 
while, on the other hand, it fupplied various weapons to the Lu- 
tlieran, the Calvinift, the Socinian, the Anabaptifl, and cverj' other, 
denomination of pretended Reformers *.. 

But though fcarcely two interpreters agreed in their explana- 
tions, one thing was common to them all. Inftead of endeavour- 
ing to free the text from the adventitious rubbifh, that time and 
blundering tranfcribers had heaped upon it ; they applied their 
whole art and induflry, to convert that rubbifn into genuine ore ; 
or, at leaft, into fuch mixt metal, as was current in their own 
communion. If a few candid and impartial meii, fuch as Eraf- 
nrras, Drufius, Pifcator, Vatablus, Mercerus, Cajetan, Grotius, Ca- 
pellus, &c. had the courage to deviate from the common track, they 

* To this we owe yet another caufe of the imperfeftion of modern tranflations. Not fa- 
tisfied with eflablifhing tlieir refpeftive tenets, from the fuppofed meaning of tlie words; they 
fometimes ventured to fit the words themfelves to the meaning they wilhed them to have; 
and waving, as Gill obferves, whatever fcemed to make againft them, they chofe fuch terms as 
fuited beft with their own intereft, opinions, and prejudices. Many, and I fear too juft, ftiu- 
tual reproaches have been made on this head. I make little account of the invefiives of fuch 
violent and cavilling writers as Frizon, Veron, Martyn, and Ward; or of the angry retalia- 
tions of Amana, Cartwright, Withers, James, and Fulke. They often, on both fides, eatch- 
ed at mere fhadows, and found defigned miftranflations, where there was no miftranflation at 
all. But ftill I believe there was more or lefs ground for reciprocal impeachment ; and I 
have hardly feen a modern verfion, in which I could not difcern feme vifible marks cf party- 
zeal. The age of polemical fcurrility is, or ought to be, now over; and writers of every 
perfuafion will henceforth, we truft, reciprocally adift one another, towards difcovering the 
genuine fignification of fuch texts or terms as admit of ambiguity; v^■ithout iiifidioufnefs or 


were pointed out by all parties as fufpicious and dangerous writers ; 
loaded with injuries and maledi<5lions ; and fometimes obliged, ac- 
cording to the teftimony of Mariana, to plead their caufe in chains. 
Yet it is chiefly in their works that we are to look for almoll all 
that is truly valuable in the commentaries of the lall and preceding 

The young eager Biblical fludent, who fets out with a rcfolu- 
tion of reading whatever has been written on the fubjedl, is fright- 
ened, on opening his Le Long, at the formidable hoft of authors 
he has to encounter ; and, if he be not very fteady in his purpofes, 
will be apt to recoil, and decline the enterprife: but let him not 
defpair ; I will venture to aiTure him that the quinteffence of all 
he feeks for is to be found, judicioufly colledled, and methodically 
arranged, in Poole's Synopfts. Had I always been convinced of this 
truth, I fliould have fpared myfelf much fruitlefs labour, and faved 
a great deal of loft time : but experience, although a fure, is a 
flow teacher, et longo poji tempore -venit. Let us hufband the mo- 
ments that yet remain, and endeavour to employ them more ufe- 

For, within thefe laft hundred years, things have taken a differ- 
ent turn ; and fince Capellus pointed out the right way, a number 
of critics have trodden it with fuccefs. Bv their continued and con- 
curring efforts, the avenues to the fani5luary have been gradually 
cleared; Maforetic prejudices have been removed; religious animo- 


fity has in a great meafure fubfidcd ; and the learned, of all perfua- 
fions, can now bear to walk in the fame path, without juftling one 

This, like mon other branches of critical learning, begun to 
flourilh firft in France : thence it found its way into Britain ; and 
is, now, making a rapid progrefs over all Europe, efpecially among 
the northern nations. 

To enumerate all the ufeful books and tracts, that have been 
written on this fubjecl, during the foremcntioned period, would 
lead me beyond the bounds I have prefcribed to myfelf : but as 
fome of my readers may, poffibly, willi to know, by whom this 
important revolution, in facred literature, has been principally ef- 
fecled; I will juft mention fuch of them, as appear to me to have 
" laboured more abundantly" than the reft; without meaning to 
throw any fort of reiledlion on thofe I may omit. 

The works of Capellus, the founder of this Neiu Academy^ will 
always claim a particular attention. There are, in all his writings, 
a clearnefs, a method, and a force that fliould provoke the emula- 
tion of every Biblical critic : though few, I fear, will be able to at- 
tain them in the fame degree. A new edition of his Critica Sacra 
was publiilied by Vogel at Leipfic in 1777. — Although Bochart 
be a tedious writer, and although many of his conjedures be ex- 
tremely dubious, he will feldom be confulted without advantage. — 
The Exercitations and fome other works of Morinus contain a great 


number of judicious obfervations, blended with feme paradoxes.— 
F. Simon's Critical Hiftory is, notwithflanding its few oddities, a 
mofl capital work; and the firft;, we believe, in which are laid 
down jufl and rational principles, for having a good vernacular 
tranflation of the Bible. — Much juft criticifm is found difperfed in 
the works of Huet, Renaudot, Natalis Alexander, Lamy, Thomaf- 
fin ; the DifTertations of Dupin ; the Differ tations, Prefaces, Com- 
mentary, and Biblical Didlionary of Calmet; the additional Differ- 
tations and notes of his abrldgers ; Father Tournemlnes T rolegomena 
to his edition of Menochlus ; Menochius's own Annotations, and 
the fliort but excellent Notes of Emanuel Sa ; Pezron's yfntiquite 
des terns, with its defence againft Martianay; Martianay's own 
pieces on the fame fubje6l, and his Preface and Notes to his edition 
of St. Jerom ; Le Quien s and Souclet's anfwers to Pezron ; Mont- 
faucon's Preface and Notes to Origen's Hexapla, with many fcat- 
tered remarks in his other works ; Houblgant's excellent Prolego- 
mena, Prefaces, and Notes to his Latin verfion of the Bible ; the 
work of the Capuchlnes already mentioned j the Thefes and little - 
•pofthumous pieces of L'Advocat * ; Conftant's Commentary on 

* Firft Hebrew profefTor in tlie chair of Sorbonne, erecleJ in the year I 75 i by llie Duke 
of Orleans, for the p'.irpofe of reviving Oriental learning in the Univerfity of Paris, and of ex- 
.plaining the Hebrew fcriptures. No man was more capable of fulfilling this double objeft 
than L'Advocat. He had a penetrating genius, an aftonilhing memory, a correct judgment, 
and an exquifite tafte. He was the moll univerfal fchnlar, the mod: pleafant teacher, the moft 
■beiievolent man and the moft moderate theologian I ever knew. Had he lived a little longer 


the Pfalms, lately publiflied ; befides a number of memolres, dif- 
fertations, and occafional remarks, in the feveral journals of Paris, 
Trevoux, Verdun, Amfterdam, the Hague, and Geneva — all which 
are deferving of the tranflator's notice , and will all afford both in- 
formation and entertainment. Nor are the works of the French 
Refugees in Holland to be negle<5led ; particularly thofe of Le 
Clerc, Le Cene, Spanheim, Bafnage, Beaufobre, Martin, Chais, 
Roques, Saurin ; moft of whom were extremely capable of carry- 
ing facred criticifm to a great degree of perfedion ; had they been 
lefs wedded to old prepofTefEons, and lefs addidled to theological 

Among the facred critics of Italy, the moft diftinguifhed are 
Bartolocci, Cardinal Thomafi, Bianchini, Diodati*, Ugolini, Fa- 
bricy, De Magiftris, De Rofli, Georgi, Poch, Setaro, Borgia, An- 
faldi; many of whom are yet alive; and, I doubt not, heartily la- 
bouring in the fame vineyard. 

In Germany a conftellation of writers have lately arifen j who 
have difpelled more clouds, and cleared up more obfcure paflages 
of Scripture, than perhaps the writers of any other nation; our 

and enjoyed more leifure to accompllfli the work he meditated on the Scripture, we fhould 
now polFefs a treafure of great value; but a weakly conftitulion and too conftant an applica- 
tion to his profeffional duties hurried him away in his 56th year, to the great regret of all who 
knew him, but of none more than of him who dedicates thefe lines to his memory. 
* Not the fame with the tranflator of the Bible. 



own not excepted : although they are not yet arrived at the zenith. 
they fairly promife to attain. At the head of thefe we place the 
venerable Michaelis, one of the mod learned and judicious mo- 
dern critics: nor will Biorn-Sthal, Bruns, Fifcher, Hafencamp^ 
Gottfried, Lilienthal, Schulze, Oberlin, Storke, Outhovius, Schoet- 
genius, Starck, Koppe, Schnurrer, Eichorn, Cramer, Teller, Schei- 
dius, Biel, Knappe, Doederleim, Dathe, Rare, Griefbach, Velthu- 
fen, Woide, Maldenhover, Adler, Birch, and other refpe<5lable: 
names, grudge the veteran this honour of precedence ; when it is 
allowed, that every one of themfelves will be a precedent and a 
model in his turn. There are alfo many pieces in the literary 
diaries of Leiden, Leipfic, Goetingen, Saxa-Gotha, and Berlin, 
which the curious and inquifitive indagator will be glad to have 
difcovered and perufed *. 

It may feem an unneceiTary affedlation to give a catalogue of 
Englifh writers ; who, fince the beginning of this caitury, have fo 
largely contributed to emancipate facred criticifm, from the fet- 
ters forged by credulity and fuperftition ; as the greatefl part of 
my readers may be fuppofed to be, at leaft, as well acquainted 
with them as myfelf : but, befides, that I cannot, without ingrati- 
tude, fupprefs the obligations I lie under to thofe of my country- 

* The Biblical ftudent will alfo be glad to know that Mr. Maty's new Review contains the 
earlieft intelligence of foreign publications of every kind ; and particulary thofe that relate to 
facred criticifnt. 


men who have walked before me in the fame career, and fmooth- 
ed fo many places of the rugged path; I obferve, with concern, 
that there are others, who endeavour to throw obftacles in the 
way ; and deter many from entering into it, who might be capable 
of making uncommon progrefs. 

It is not eafy to root out old prejudices even from the minds of 
the learned. The belief of an immaculate original is not yet uni- 
verfally exploded ; and there are who think religion is in danger, 
if but a fingle letter or point be altered or expunged. As long as 
this idea obtains, little more will be done among us towards clear- 
ing up the Hebrew writings, than has been done already. Poole, 
Prideaux, Patrick, Pearce, Hammond, Henry, Whitby, Wells, Wall, 
Waterland, Clarendon, Clarke, Locke, Sale, Sykes, Stackhoufe, 
Dodd, Watfon, and fome others of Icfs note have correcled many 
miftranflations of our prefent verfion ; and we are greatly indebted 
to them for their learned labours ; but fome of them would have 
laboured much more fuccefsfuUy, if they had raifed their fuper- 
flrudlures on a better foundation than the fuppofed integrity of 
the Maforetic text. 

We are not, then, to conclude from the great number of expo- 
sitors, that therefore the Scriptures are thoroughly expounded. 
The generality of our commentators, like thofe of other nations, 
are either blind followers of fome particular theological fyftem ; 
or drudging compilators from difierent fyftems. The huge mafles 



of indigefted matter, that ifHie yearly from the prefTes of Fleet- 
Street and Pater-Nofter-Row, are generally better calculated to 
throw ridicule on the facred text, than to explain it ; and oftener 
furnifh the infidel with fpecious pretexts, for queftioning the 
truths of religion, than the believer with folid arguments to fup- 
port them. Expunge from thofe motly performances the unmean- 
ing myftic jargon, the naufeous cant of enthufiafra, and the trite 
and tedious maxims of a common-place morality ; all that is left 
behind of any value may be comprefl into a nut-fliell. Yet thefe 
are the guides that diredl the people in their Biblical refearches. 
By thefe the minds of the vulgar are early tincfhired with that fa- 
natic zeal, that religious rancour, that horrid intolerantifm 5 the 
fatal efFe(5ls of which we fo lately experienced ; but which could 
not have happened in a free and liberal nation, like ours, without 
fuch potent incitements, as arife from religious prejudices. 

To prevent fuch dangerous confequences, and to refcue the 
Scriptures from the hands of fuch empyrics, ought to be the aim 
and endeavour of every rational theologift. The falutary waters 
of life fhould be prefented to the people as free of every foreign 
admixture as poffible ; and nothing fhould be prefented along with 
them, that has the leaft tendency to foment bigotry or create 
party-rage. Let profound myftics and fubtle cafuifls be, if they 
will, employed in difcovering allegorical, anagogical, and moral 
meanings j let profefTed polemics torment the text, to make it a- 

P R O S P E C T U S. 125 

gree with their favourite hypothefis ; it is the bufinefs of tlie mere 
interpreter, much more of the tranflator, to give the obvious lite- 
ral fenfe of his author ; with a view to no particular fyflem, and 
without regard to parties or principles; 

Luckily this mode of interpreting has been already adopted by 
our beft writers ; and we have only to follow and improve their 
plan. Whoever has read, with attention, Whifton's EfTays on the 
true text of the Old Teftament, Hallett's notes on feveral texts of 
Scripture, Mudge and Merrick on the Pfalms, Coftard's Obferva- 
tions and DiiTertations, Pilkington's Remarks, Heath and Peters on 
Job,^ Hunt on Proverbs, Defvoeux on Eccleiiaftes, Arnold on the 
Apocrypha; above all Dr, Kennicott's DiiTertations on the flate of 
the Hebrew text, and Bifhop Lowth's admirable Preface to his 
tranflation of Ifaiah *, muft, we think, be convinced that facred 
criticifm can never be brought to the perfeclion of which it is fuf- 
ceptible, but by the method they have pointed out and pradllfed : 
and his conviclion will be ftill more compleat, if he read the feve- 
ral pieces that have been written on the other fide of the queftion f. 

* Add to thefe the Prefaces and Annotations of Blayney and Bifhop Newcome, fome pa- 
pers in the Theological Repofitory, feveral of Biihop Watfon's Theological Tra>f>s, and many 
excellent occaflonal remarks in the Monthly and Critical Reviews, and Gentleman's Ma- 

f See Rutherforth's, and the French Abbe's Letters to Kennicott, Robertfon's Analyfis of 
the Pentateuch, Baruh's Critica Sacra examined — Durel on the Hebrew text, Home's View, 
Purver's Annotations. See alfo different works of Schmld, Eichorn, Tychfen, Razenber- 
ger, &c. &c. 


Having thus pretty copioufly treated on the principal caufes of 
the imperfe(5lion of modern verfions, and pointed out what I deem- 
ed the fureft means of removing them, I will now venture to give 
my opinion of the diftinguifhing characlers of a good tranflation^ 
and of the chief qualifications necefTary for a tranflator. 

Firflof all then, a tranflation of the Bible ought to be faithful; 
that is, ought to exprefs all the meaning and no more than the 
meaning of the original. But though this is unlverfally allowed 
to be the firft quality of a good verfion, it is not eafy to determine 
how it is to be attained : and one of the greateft difficulties I have 
met with, was to fix vipon that precife mode of rendering which 
fhould be the befl: calculated to give a genuine copy of the Scrip- 
tures, in intelligible Englifli ; without prejudice to the fimplicity 
and dignity of the originals. Two oppofite extremes were, I 
knew, to be equally avoided, a wild paraphrafe and a fervile ver- 
fion ; but in what particular point between them I fhould refl, or 
■how the happy medium was to be always preferved, were problems, 
of which, the more I revolved them in my mind, the more hard I 
experienced it to find a fatisfaclory folution, 

I confulted my learned friends ; but they differed fo widely in 
"their fentiments, that I was more perplexed than before j and, af- 
ter all, obliged to rely on my own judgment, fuch as it is; and to 
prefcribe for myfelf one uniform route, that feemed the mofl likely 
to lead me on, with the leafl danger, to the intended goal. I en- 


tcred into it with the greater confidence, becaufe it had been trod- 
den before by Symmachus and Jerom ; and recommended by the 
befl critics of every age, as the fureft way to fucceed. 

My tranllation, then, is neither literal nor verbal; but, if I may 
ufe the term, fb'i^lly fentential ; that is, every lentence of the Eng- 
lifh correfponds as exa(5lly to the Hebrew, as the difference of the 
two idioms will permit; and although I have not made myfelf fo 
much a flave to the original, as to adopt its peculiar phrafeology 
and conftrucflion, where they greatly differed from our own, I have 
always kept as clofely to it as was compatible with the ideas I had 
formed to myfelf of a good tranflation *. 

I am not ignorant of the arguments that are urged in favour of 
a fervilely literal verfion. I have long and fcrioufly pondered them, 
and found them to be light as air. The chief, and indeed the only 
fpecious one, is that in a free tranflation, there is no fmall danger 
of fubftituting the tranflator's ideas, in the room of the author's ; 
and confequently of mifleading the reader: but it would be eafy to 
prove that this danger is greater in literal verfions ; and that Pagni- 
nus and Montanus are lefs faithful guides than even Caftalio, Mi- 
chaelis or Wynne. It is indeed abfolutely impoffible to tranflate 
literally from any language whatever, without being often barba- 

* Tranflatio vera cjl cujiu fenfus a fuo fonte non deviat, fed fentcntiai reddit et lafdtm cl ae- 
quales. Greg, de Valentia apud Walton. 


rous, obfcure and equivocal ; and this alone is a fufEcient reafon 
for tranflating freely *. 

For perfpiculty is the fecond moft eflential quality of a good 
tranllation ; nor need we the authority of Horace or Ariftotle to 
eftabllfla a propofition fo agreeable to common fenfe. The Jewifh, 
like all other writers, certainly wrote to be underftood. The poets 
■and prophets themfelves are not obfcure on account of their ftile ; 
which, though bold and figurative, mufl have been perfedly intel- 
ligible when they wrote ; but from our imperfect knowledge of the 
Hebrew idiom and of the cuftoms and manners of thofe times. A 
tranllator, therefore, who, under the pretext that his originals are 

* From this the reader muft by no means infer that my tranflation is not a clofe one. Be- 
. tween loofe and liberal the diftance is great ; and even of liberal tranllations there are many va- 
rious kinds ; feme of which are little different from what is often, though improperly, called 
a literal verfion. Wlial I mean is, that perfpicuity and the other qualities of a good tranflation 
. ought never to be facrificed to a fcrupulous adiierence to tlie letter of the original : and, in- 
deed, an Englifh tranflator will not often have occafion to make fuch facrifices. Our lan- 
guage eafily moulds itfelf into the Hebrew form; and it rarely happens that we are under any 
neceffity of having recourfe to paraphraze or circumlocution, to exprefsthe full meaning of 
the text. Even when the fyntaclieal arrangement is different, there is a ftriking equipollence 
of fimplicity, concifenefs and energy to be attained; which, perhaps no other modern lan- 
guage can boaft of; and which is not found in ours, with regard to any other language, btt 
the Hebrew. With this natural advantage, I flatter myfelf I (hall be able to give a verfion 
in nearly as few words as are in the original ; and, at any rate, lefs vcrbofe than even our pre- 
fent vulgar tranflation. The very few liberties I have taken with the text, to render my ver- 
fion more intelligible, and I flatter myfelf more encrgic; and the fmall deviations I have 
made from the track of my anteceflbrs, for the fake of a more eafy and unembaralTed march, 
ihall be noted and examplified, in my General preface. :• 


obfcure, afFedls to give an obfcure tranflatlon, betrays either his 
idlenefs or his ignorance ; offers an infult to his reader ; and throws 
an oblique ridicule on the author he pretends to interpret. If the 
Scriptures are at all to be tranflated, of which we can have no doubt, 
they fliould certainly be made as plain and perfpicuous as poffible ; 
and not a fingle ambiguity fliould be left in them that can be by any 
means removed. That there arc certain myfterious words of the 
originals, which fliould not be rendered, may be a pious, but is not 
a rational notion. The Greek and Hebrew are not, of their own 
nature, more facred languages than the Welch or Wallachian : and 
furely, to a mere Englifli reader, pafs-over and praife ye the Lord, 
are not lefs fignificant and far more edifying founds than pafch^ and 

A third quality of a good verfion is elegance ; but an elegance 
of a fpecial kind, and of peculiar charatflerifticks. That an elegant 
tranflation of the Bible has a great advantage over a barbarous one, 
is ftrongly verified by that of Luther ; which would never have 
been fo well received at firft, nor continued fo long the favourite 
of the German nation ; if it had not, in an eminent degree, poffeffed 
the charms of an inchanting (lilc, and all the graces of a corredl 
and elegant didlion. The idle fneer of F. Simon, " that Luther 
" feemed to have only in view to make the Holy Ghoft fpeak good 
" German," is in reality a great panegyric; and the aim of Luther 
ought to be that of every other tranflator. It is an odd manner of ■ 



conciliating the tafte and fixing the attention of the reader, to tell, 
him, you defpife elegancy of compolition. 

But how is this elegancy to be acquired? Perhaps, it is not 
entirely to be acquired. It muft be, in part, the gift of nature; but 
the talent may certainly be cultivated and improved ; and the ob- 
fcrvation of the following rules, I apprehend, will be found contri- 
hutive to that purpofe. 

In the firft: place, a tranflator of tafte will be careful to make ae 
jufl and proper feledion of terms. Secondly, he will arrange them, 
in the moll natural order. Thirdly, he will rejedl all meretrici- 
ous ornaments. Let us illuftrate thefe rules by a few examples. 

A proper choice of terms is the firft and perhaps the hardefl 
duty of a tranflator. It is even harder for him, than for an ori- * 
ginal compofer. The latter may accomodate the fentence to his 
v/ords ; but the former is under an abfolute neceflity of adapting 
words to fentences. Now as there is, in no language, a perfed: 
Jynonymity of any two terms, it becomes a matter of great difficulty 
to make always a jufl diftin(5lion. The fame Hebrew word, Ge- 
nefis i. i6. has been rendered lights, luminaries, and illuminations. 
The firfl was the term adopted by our laft tranflators; the fecond is 
ufcd by Wells, Stackhoufe, and Doddj and the third by Lookup: 
but whoever examines the analogical propriety of the three terms, 
and compares them with the original, will clearly perceive, that 
lu7ninaries is here a more luitable term than lights, and lights thaai 


illuminations — To divide, to feparatc, and to dijlinguijjj arc words of 
nearly the fame fignification ; yet I lliould fay, " to divide a vic- 
*' tim, a portion, an inheritance, the land, the fpoil; to JeparateY\Q\\t 
" from darknefs, waters from waters, the fons of Levi from the 
" other tribes ; to dijlingui/h the clean from the unclean, the holy 
*' from the profane, the children of Ifrael from the Egyptians." 

It may, however, happen that a word fhall properly enough ex- 
prefs the meaning of the original, and yet be inelegant and inad- 
miffible ; either, becaufe it is altogether obfolete, or is of low and 
trite ufage, or has fome ludicrous idea annexed to it, or, in fine, 
favours of afFecflation and pedantry. In all thefe cafes a judicious 
tranflator will fubftitute fome more modern, more noble, more de- 
cent, and more unaffeded term ; though, perhaps, it fhould not be 
quite fo fignificant and emphatical. Albeit^ fet, hofeny leafing^ Jith^ 
feeth, fod were in the days of our forefathers as exprellive and con- 
gruous words, as thofe we now ufe inflead of them ; yet no tran*- 
flator, who ftudies elegance, will admit them into his verfion ; 
much lefs will he admit fuch indelicate vulgarifms, as we find in 
almofl every page of Purver's tranflation ; or fuch quaintnefs of 
exprellion, as is too often chargeable on Le Cene *. 

All this, I think, will be readily granted by thofe who are in 
the leaft acquainted with the laws of good writing. But, in the 

* Both thefe vices are wonderfully united in a ridiculous and. profane verfion of the New 
Teftament, publilhed with the Greek, in two volumes oflavo, in the year 1729. 

R 2 


courfe of my laDours, a doubt has occurred, relative to this fubjedl; 
which I wifh to propofe to the confideration of the learned. It has 
been, I believe, a generally received idea that a tranflator fhould 
prefer words that are originally of the language into which be tran- 
llates, to words that have been adopted from other languages; and, 
Iconfefs, I was once ftrongly prepofTefFed with this idea. For why, 
faid I, fliould we have recourfe to Greek and Latin, when we can 
find equivalent terms of good Saxon etymology ? I am now convinced 
I was in the wrong; and that words of a foreign extra(5lion are, 
not feldom, preferable to thofe of our own growth. I will give my 
reafons, and fupport them by examples. 

It will not, I think, be denied, that, of words equally fignifi- 
cant, thofe are the moft eligible, which are the leaft produ(5live of 
ambiguity, the leafl liable to receive new and accefTary meanings, 
and the leafl likely to deviate into tritenefs and vulgarity *. But 
to me it appears evident, that words, which we have adopted from 
other languages, have generally all thofe qualities in a greater de- 
gree than the' original terms of our own. They are therefore ge- 
ri,erally to be preferred. For this reafon I fhould rather fay to " ejl- 
'* hhjh''' than ' ' X-ofet up a covenant ;" "to regulate'' rather than " to rule 
*' the day and the night ;" ahyfi rather than deep ; difmifs rather than 
fend aivay; parad'ife rather xXxSlW garden; deludge rather thzn food; 
conflux or affejnblage of waters rather than gathering together of wa- 
ters; genealogy rather than book of the generations^ &c, 

* See Michaclis's DiiTertation on the inffucncs of opinions on language. Sz€t. z. 


This rule, however, admits of very many exceptions ; and great 
difcretion, is required in the ufe of it. A word of foreign deriva- 
tion, though fully naturalized, is often lefs proper than another 
aboriginal one of the fame fignification. Thus, there is no doubt 
but that the common verfion of Geneiis xi. 8. "The Lord/catiered 
•' themj" is preferable to Lookup's: " The Lord dijfipated themj" 
although perhaps, d'lfperfed would here be better than either. In like 
manner, I fhould prefer cm ijfue of blood or a blood ijjhe to a fanguinary 
Jlux ; after thefe things to after thefe tranfaflions ; nakednefs to nudity ; 
pO'wer to ability ; foolijlmefs to infatuation, &c. 

It may fometimes even happen, that a word of our own growth 
and an exotic one of the fame force, are of fuch a nature as to be, 
xefpeclively, more proper in one circumflance, and lefs fo in another. 
Thus, of the terms drunk and inebriated, I fhould ufe the firfl, Job 
xii. 1^, " he maketh them to ftagger, like a drunk man :" but the 
latter Gen. ix. 21. " and he drunk of the wine until he was inebri- 
" ated;^^ forreafons which, I think, willbe obvious to every intelli- 
gent reader. I would not in the laft inftance tranflate intoxicated 
with Lookup ; becaufe intoxication does not properly denote drunk- 
ennefs, in as far as it proceeds fromexcefs in drinking; but from 
a poifonous quality fuppofed to be in the drink. Again, though 
cq/l out and expel be both good words, yet, if I am not deceived, the 
laft v/ould be the moft proper word Gen. iii. 24. " So he expelled the 
*' man," &c. but, in the mouth of Sarah, Gen. xxi, 10. "Crt,/?ott/that 


" bond woman" feems to be a more eligible rendering. In fliort, 
that term is ever to be preferred, which is the mod difcriminateljr 
cxpreflive of the particular idea, it is meant to convey. 

Our lalt tranflators paid great attention to this fort of propriety; 
which gives uncommon beauty and energy to their fliie. They 
generally, indeed, preferred old Englifh terms to recently imported 
ones * ; and, at this day, they may appear to have fometimes car- 
ried that preference beyond due bounds : but we fliould confider, 
that 1 74 years are pafTed fince their tranflation was made ; and that 
many words are now grown familiar to us which were not then at 
all in ufe ; while many others, that were then of the bell ufage, have 
gradually gone into defuetude. 

But it is not enough that the words be properly chofen ; they 
muft alfo be properly arranged, we are told that Addifon was fo 
fcrupuloufly nice in this particular, that he would often alter a 
whole paper for the fake of a few niifplaced particles. Be this as 
it may, it is certain that nothing contributes more to elegance than 
the appofite arrangement of words. " In the beginning God cre- 
ated the heaven and the earth," and *' God created the heaven and 
*' the earth in the beginning," are in reality compofed of the fame 
terms : but how flat is the lall, which is Purver's tranflation, com- 

* Sometimes, howe%'er, they abandoned this mode of rendering without necefllty, and even 
to the detriment of their verfion. Ezek. ix. 1 1. They tranflate " the Ta?ia reported the matter" 
inllead of " the man brought back word"; tliough the laft be not only a more Enghfh, but 
alfo a more literal tranflation. 


pared with the firft, which is the common one ? It is equal, as to the 
meaning, whether we fay with Lookup : " They had ferved Che- 
*' dorlaomer twelve years, and rebelled in the thirteenth," or with 
King James's tranflators, " Twelve years they had ferved Chedorla- 
*' omer, but in the thirteenth year they rebelled ;" yet it will not,: ^ 
we prefume, be denied that the latter is by far the mofl elegant 
mode of arrangement *. 

With regard to meretricious ornaments, the flrid mode of ren- 
dering which, thofe who have translated the Scriptures have ge- 
nerally prefcribed to themfelves, has luckily preferved them from 
falling into tliat defed : and this is, perhaps, the ftrongcft argu- 
ment that can be urged in favour of literal verfions. The flile of 
Pliny, Seneca, or even of Cicero might be clothed, with fome de- 
gree of feeming propriety, in the Englifh drefs of a Stanhope, or 
Leftrange; but Caefar, Sallufl, or Demofthenes would appear 
ftrangely metamorphofed in fuch a garb. Lefs ftill does the facred 
Scripture admit of this fort of embellifhment. The elegance that 

* From an improper arrangement of words arifes, not only inelegance, but often obfcurity 
and fometimes a mifapprehenfion of the tranflator's meaning. Inftances of this are extremely 
frequent in Purver. But I (Lall prefent the reader with one from the common verfion. In 
Ezek. vi. 12. we find thefe words: "And thou flialt eat it as barley- cakes, and thou flialt 
" bake it with dung that cometh out of a man, in their fight." By this arrangement it fhould 
feem, as if the dung were to come out of the man, in the fight of the people; nor does the com- 
ma after nutn, entirely remove the ambiguity : whereas, tranfpofe the words thus, as tliey 
indeed ftand in the original: •' As barley-cakes thou fhalt eat it, and with dung, that cometh 
*' from man, thou (halt bake it in their fight." The fenfe is plain and obvious, the turn, if I 
am not miftaken, lefs profaical, and yet the tranflation more literal than before. 


fuits it is fimple and unafFeded ; not the elegance of a court-lady 
decked out for a ball or birth-day, but that of rural beauty in her 
Sunday's apparel, modeftly decorated with fuch flowers as grow in 
her native meads. The example of Caflalio, whofe greateft and 
almoft only fault was an affedlation to adorn his verfion with ex- 
otic finery, fliould be a powerful warning to all future tranflators, 
to avoid repeating an experiment that proved unfuccefsful even in 
his hands. Compare his Latin verfion with that of Houbigant, or 
Harwood's Englifla New Teftament with the vulgar tranllation, and 
you will have a flriking illuftration of what I have here advanced. 
A fourth quality of a good tranflation is as ftridl a uniformity 
of flile and manner as is confiftent with the other foregoing pro- 
perties. It fliould not be clofe in one place and free in another ; 
fometimes corre(5l, and at other times carelefs ; here, arrayed in the 
robes of a fafliionable tafte, and there, only covered with the rags of 
rufticity ; much lefs mufl: it appear a piece of patch work by diifer- 
ent hands. 

fer'uelur ad imum 
^alis ab incepto procejferit, et j%i conjlet. 
It does not, however, hence follow, that the fame words or even 
the fame phrafes fliould always, and without the leafl; variation, 
be rendered in the fame manner. Thofe critics, who have required 
this, have reqviired too mvich. A compliance with fo rigorous a 
law would often produce a tranflation not only unintelligible but 


extremely erroneous. "When Lookup, Gen. v. i. tranflates "This 
*' is the roll of the hiflories of Adam," he tranflates with fome fort 
•of propriety, becaufe the Hebrew word there fignifies a narrati've^ 
and narratives were commonly written on rolls: but when. Gen. 
XV. 5. he renders the fame Hebrew term by the fame vernacular 
one: " Look toward the roll oi the ftars," he gives to the word 
roll an acceptation of which it is not fufceptible; and, perhaps, im- 
prelTes a falfe idea on the mind of his reader. For who would ima- 
gine that roll here were the fame as number ; and not rather that it 
meant rolling or rotation ? not to mention that the original word is 
in this place a verb, and well rendered in the common verfion, 
■tell; ft ill better by Bate, number. 

It is, then, enough that the fame word or phrafe be, in the fame 
=circumftances and in the fame acceptation, tranflated in the fame 
manner: nor can this be confidered as a hard reftridion on the tran- 
flator ; for if he has once hit on a good term or mode of expreffion, 
why would he feek to change it merely for the fake of variety, at 
■the rifk of ftumbling on a worfe ? 

Yet this general uniformity in tranflating fhould not preclude a 
particular attention to that diverfity of ftile which characterifes the 
different Scripture-writers. This is a fifth quality of a good tran- 
flation, which, however difficult to attain, ought certainly and by 
all means, to be aimed at. The hiftorical parts of the Bible are not 
to be rendered in the fame manner, as the poetical ; nor thefe, as the 



fentential. The ftile of the book of Job is not the ftlle of Ifaiah, 
nor the flile of Ifaiah that of any other prophet. Every writer, whe- 
ther facred or profane, has fomething peculiar to himfelf, and it 
ought to be the endeavour of a tranflator to retain as much as pof- 
fible of that pecuharity. He muft, as Bifhop Lowth finely ex- 
prefles it, *' imitate his features, his air, his gefture, and, as far as 
" the difference of language will permit, even his voice." 

By this time the reader will be fufficiently prepared to draw this 
inference — That a good tranflation of the Bible is a moft arduous 
tafk ; and he will, probably, wonder at the refolution, or rafhnefs, 
of that individual, who ventures fingly to undertake it. Nor will 
his aftonifhment be IclTened by viewing the following fketch of the 
neceffary qualifications of a tranflator ; which with a trembling 
hand I now venture to delineate. 

A tranflator, then, mufl in the firfl place be well acquainted 
with the language from which, and the language into which he 
tranflates; and, for that purpofe, mufl have made a long and fe- 
rious ftudy of both. It is even hard to fay, to which of them he 
ought to have paid the greatefl attention : fo nearly balanced are 
the inconveniences that would enfue from inattention to either. 

It is indeed natural enough to fuppofe that a due knowledge of 
that language, which we have been accuflomed to fpeak from our 
infancy, would be much more eafily acquired, than that of one, 
which we are obliged to learn, by the dint of memory, from books. 


But that very facility with which we attain our mother-tongue in 
a certain degree of Idiomatical propriety, is a real obftacle to our 
attaining it in perfecllon. We are too apt to imagine that he, who 
readily exprefTes himfelf, cxpreffes himfelf well ; and the negligen- 
ces and even the folecifms of a familiar or provincial flile, will 
fometimes imperceptibly fteal into our mofl elaborate compofitions. 
There is no colloquial dialedl perfectly pure : not that of the capi- 
tal, not that of the court, not that of the college ; and many expref- 
iions iffue daily from the mouths of our mod accurate and polite 
ipeakers, that would not bear the tell of a fevere criticifm. A 
writer mud, therefore, be continually on his guard againft the ob- 
trufion of a low and vulgar phrafeology, and weigh every word 
and fentence with grammatical Ikill and logical precilion. 

On the other hand the difficulty of learning a dead language is 
evident ; efpecially of fuch a language as the Hebrew. The com- 
pofitions in it are few, and incorredly tranfmitted to us : the belt 
lexicons are yet very imperfecl : the fignification of many words is 
extremely dubious, and their etymology very often equivocal. 
Hence he, who afpires at but a competent knowledge of it, mufl 
frequently have recourfe to the other Oriental diale<f\s ; the gram- 
mar, vocabulary and genius of which he muft, confequently, be 
,well acquainted with. 

All this is undoubtedly requifite in a tranllator of the Bible ; 
but it is not all that is requiiite. He muft, moreover, be conver- 

S 2 


fant in Greek and Roman learning ; by means of which, many paf- 
lages of Scripture may be illuflratcd. Poets, philofophers, hifto- 
rians, philologifts, geographers, naturahfts — all ought to enter inta 
his plan of reading; becaufe from all he may, occalionally, derive 
advantage. Nor flaould modern travels, voyages and topographi- 
cal defcriptions efcape his notice. In fhort he mud be as much as 
pofTible a univerfal fcholar; and if he be not fo capacious a living 
library, as to retain all he has read ; he fliould, at lead, be able tcr 
recoUecl, vv'here to feek what he immediately wants. 

Yet the moft profound erudition will not fecure him fuccefs, if 
he be not alfo pofTelTed of an acute penetration, a nice difcernment, 
and a fure and delicate tafte, formed on the beft models of antiqui- 
ty. The moft of thofe who have given tranflations of the Bible 
were, as Michaelis obferves * mere fcholaftlc theologians ; who ex- 
plained the Scriptures according to the fame dry methodical rules, 
by which they would have explained the Categories of Ariftotlc. 
They were even perfwaded that philology had nothing to do with 
either logic or divinit)% ^lanto eris melior grammaticus, faid they, 
tantopejor diakdicus et theologus. This ridiculous maxim was flrong- 
ly urged againft Reuchlin, Valla, Vives, Faber, Erafmus; and 
had, before, been urged, with equal ignorance and zeal, againft 
St. Jerom. With regard to the interpretation of the Scriptures, the 
maxim might, perhaps, be inverted: ^lanto tjielior theologus, tatito 

* Praefat. in notas ad Lewth. 


fejor interprcs. At any rate, one of the mofl eflential qualifications 
of a good tranflator is to be a good grammarian ; without which^ 
ill the theology of the Sorbonne will be of little ufe. 

From what has been now faid, it follows, as a neceflary corrol- 
tary; that a tranflator of the Bible fhould have a conflitution to 
bear, and an inclination to undergo, afliduous and perfeverant 
labour; a qualification too rarely conjoined with quicknefs of appre- 
henfion and elegance of tafte. He muft profecute his always fe- 
rious, often unengaging ftudies, with all the w^arm enthufiafm o£ 
a poet or painter ; and yet with all the patient drudgery of a la- 
borious mechanic. To pore, from morn to eve, on fuch a num- 
ber of books, diverfity of tongues and variety of figures, is enough 
to confufe the cleareft Intellecfts ; and to deaden the perfpicacity of 
the mental, as well as of the corporeal eye. If writing the dictio- 
nary of a fingle language be, as Scaliger thought, an adequate pu- 
nilhment for parricide ; what crime may not be atoned for, by 
cranflating the Hebrew fcriptures ? 

The laft, but not leaft necelTary, qualification of a tranflator \^ 
an honeft impartiality. Whether that be abfolutely attainable by 
any mortal, may be reafonably queftioned : but no one will deny, 
that every poflible endeavour fhould be made to attain it. Un- 
wedded to fyflems of any kind, literary, phyfical or religious ; a 
tranflator of the Bible fhould fit down to render his author, with 
the fame indifference he would fit down to render Thucvdides or 


Xenophon, He fhould try to forget, that he belongs to any parti- 
cular fociety of Chriflians ; be extremely jealous of his moft rational 
prepofTefllons ; keep all theological confequences as far out of his 
fight as polTible ; and inveftigate the meaning of his original, by the 
rules only of a found and fober criticifm ; regardlefs of pleafing or 
difpleafing any party. 

Some reader may here be difpofed to afk : Are you poflTefTed of 
all thefe qualifications ? To this not unnatural queflion I beg leave 
to give an anfwer, fomewhat fimilar to that which Cicero gives on 
a fimilar occafion ; though on a diffei-ent fubjed. Having defcribed, 
with inimitable eloquence, the qualities of an accompliihed orator, 
he modeftly declares that he has given, rather an idea of what he 
conceived to be pofTible, than of what he ever expected to fee. How 
much greater reafon have I to acknowledge that my ideal portrai- 
ture of a good tranflatcr of the Bible is far beyond the reach of my 
own abilities. 

To be flill more explicit and ingenuous ; although I have long 
endeavoured after the qualifications aboveraencioned, to affirm po- 
fitively that I have actually acquired them all, or any one of them 
in an eminent degree, would be an unconfcientious and rafli aflcr- 
tion. In learning, genius and judgment I know myfelf to be infe- 
rior to many ; fome few may exceed me in diligence, affiduity and 
laborioufnefs ; but in candor, impartiality and uprightnefs of in- 
tention I will yield to none. 


It is on thefe more humble and fubordinate qualifications that 
I principally reft my hopes of fuccefsj and it is, no doubt, chiefly 
owing to this part of my known characfler that my fcheme has been 
fo generally approved of. For although I belong to a religion that 
had been long profcribed, and is yet far from being popular in this 
country ; and although my primary intention was to procure a to- 
lerable verfion of the Holy Scriptures for the ufe of the Britilh Ca- 
tholics, the flattering and unexpedled applaufe I have met with, in 
every part of the kingdom, from the learned of all communions, 
makes mc hope that my work may be of more general utility than I 
at firft imagined ; and contribute more or lefs to promote Biblical 
knowledge over all the land. 

To thofe who have encouraged me with their approbation, or 
aided me by their counfel ; or who may, hereafter, be induced to 
do me the like good offices ; I fliall, in due time and place, make my 
thankful acknowledgments : but I cannot refrain, at prefent, from 
mentioning two or three perfons, to whom I have had particular 

The late Dr. Kennicott, on whofe tomb evei*}' Biblical fludent 
ought annually to ftrew the tributary flower, has a peculiar claim 
to my grateful remembrance. I had hardly made known my de- 
fign, when he anticipated my wiflies to have his advice and aflifl:- 
ance towards the execution of it, with a degree of unreferved 
franknefs and friendfliip, which I had never before experienced in 


a ftranger. Not contented with applauding and encouraging him- 
felf, he pufhed me forewards from my obfcurity to the notice of 
others: he fpoke of me to Barrington ; he introduced me to 
LowTH. The very flaort time he lived, after my acquaintance 
v/ith him, and the few opportunities I had of profiting from his 
oonverfation, are diftrefllng reflexions ; but ftill I count it a happi- 
nefs to have been acquainted with a man, whofe labours I have 
daily occalion to blefs, and whofe memory I mxuft ever revere. 

Another perfonage, to whom, if my work fliall have any merit, 
the world will ftand principally indebted for it, is the Right Hon- 
ourable Lord Petre; at whofe requeft it was undertaken, and un- 
der whofe patronage it is carried on. For although the plan itfelf 
is a plan of twenty years ftanding ; and although the author had 
never any thing fo much at heart as its accomplifliment ; yet his 
circumftances in life were fuch, as mufl have rendered that im- 
pofTible, without the providential interpofition of fuch a patron. 
But Lord Petre is not only the Author's patron; he is in fome re- 
fpedls the author. It was his great love for religion, and his ex- 
t5"eme defire of feeing Scriptural knowledge more generally promot- 
ed among thofe of his own communion ; that fuggfted to him the 
idea of procuring a new tranflation, before he knew that I had 
ever entertained a fimilar idea, and at a 'time when I had almoft 
defpaired of feeing it realized. His Lordfliip, I trull, will pardon 
me for inferting, without his knowledge, this public teflimony of 


his piety and munificence ; which I could not fupprefs without violence 
to my own feelings; and which the public has, in feme fort, a 
right to know. 

Bp. Geddes of Edinburgh will, likewife, permit me to fay, that 
his early and warm approbation of my plan made me undertake 
it with more alacrity and purfue it with greater ardour. His pru- 
dent advices and feafonable encouragement have often given a new 
Himulus to my fpirits in the midft of my labours, and fometimes 
fupported me under their almofl oppreflive load. I truft, from his 
long uninterrupted friendfliip, that he will continue the fame good 
offices, until I fhall have fairly difcharged myfelf of the heavy bur- 
then ; and I forefee I flaall yet (land in need of fuch good offices. 

For although I can with pleafure affirm that all thofe who have 
hitherto taken the trouble to enquire into the nature of my defign, 
and done me the honour to read my Profpeclus while yet in 
manufcript, have approved of it, without referve * ; yet I am not fo 
vain or foolifla as to expe6l that I ffiall meet with no contradidion 
in the execution of it. That would be a fate more favourable than 
befel any of my predeceffors in the fame career : and I Ihould think 
my work of little importance indeed, if it totally efcaped cenfure. 

• I take tliis occafion to return my -warmeft thanks to the Bifhops of London and 
Sal^fbury, Dr. Goflet of London, Principal Roberlfon of Edinburgh, and Drs. Reid and Find- 
lay of Glafgow ; not only for the very favourable manner in which they have been pleafed to 
fpeak of this Profpedus ; but alfo for fome valuable hints of improvement, to which, they 
will fee, I have paid all due regard. 



The fyftematic. theologian, andfuch theologians there are in all com- 
munions, can relilh no other mode of interpreting Scripture than that 
which fuits with his o.wn partial ideas ; and every deviation from 
thefe will be by him accounted an unpardonable crime. Bigotry 
and zealotifm will probably roar aloud at my moderation : the fcio- 
lift will write to fhew that he can write; and envy, malignant en- 
vy, has fometimes been feen purfuing objedls even as mean as me. 

I hope I have a fufficient ftock of philofophy and religion to bear 
even the difappointments that arife from unfuccefsfulnefs in literary 
purfuits ; which I believe to be among the moft fevere of all difap- 
pointments. I only willr not to be judged and condemned with- 
out a fair trial. When my tranflatlon jfhall be once publifhed, it 
will be the Public's as much as mine, and every one will have a 
right to form what judgment he pleafes of it : but until then I 
earneftly requeft all Chriftians in general, and thofe of my own 
perfuafion in particular, " Not to judge before the time ;" nor 
even then without due examination. My plan is now before them^ 
Let critics point out its defe^fls, and fuggeft improvements with 
candor and charity. I will pay attention to their remarks, theii* 
admonitions, their llridures ; and I promife to 
Make ufe of cury friend and evry foe 
towards the rendering of my work lefs unworthy of the public favour. 

For the reft, I am not only well pleafed to have it thought, but 
extremely anxious to have it faid and known, that, as a tranflator, 


I am addided to no particular fyftemj nor guided by any principles 
but the rules of ti'anflating well. 

If to future tranflators I may not be able to exhibit a model of 
tafte and elegance, I flatter myfelf I fliall fet them no common ex- 
ample of religious moderation. It is certainly the intereft, and 
ought to be the concern, of both Catholics and Proteftants, to have 
their common Code as pure and genuine as poflible ; and their only 
conteft, in this refpecl, fhould be, which fhall do moft to clear it 
from every fort of corruption. To defpife the labours of another, 
becaufe he is of a different country or creed, is unworthy of a ra- 
tional being; and contrary to the practice of the bed Chriflian 
writers of antiquity. Origen was fo far from depretiating the 
works of thofe, who were not of his own communion, that he 
joined, in the fame volume, the verfions of Jews and reputed Here- 
tics, with that which the Church ufed : and St, Jerom, profiting 
of his colledlion, made no fcruple to borrow from all of them, as 
he faw occafion. 

It is, indeed, from the united ftudies of the learned of all com- 
munions, that we can ever hope to bring the Scriptures to that de- 
gree of purity and perfecflion, of which they are yet fufceptible ; 
and it is with infinite pleafure we perceive that the learned them- 
felves begin to be of this fentiment. The labours of a Houbigant, 
a Villhoifon, a Georgi and a Rofli are as much prized and ap- 
plauded at London, Leipfick and Goettengen, as thofe of a Lowth, 

T 2 


a Kennicott and a Michaelis are at Paris, Parma and Rome : and 
if the prefent tafte for Oriental learning continue to be diffufed, 
we may foon reafonably look for, at leafl, as perfect and impartial 
editions and tranflations of the Hebrew claffics, as we already have 
of the Greek and Latin. 

I have laid before the Public the nature and end of my under- 
taking, the difficulties I had to encounter and the means I have ufed 
to overcome them, the dangers I had to fear and the cautions I have 
taken to fhun them, the helps I have had, the guides ! have chiefly 
followed, the mode of tranflation I have adopted, the method I 
have purfued, and the rules I have prefcribed to rayfelf in the pro- 
fecution of my plan : and, now, I look forward, with no fmall an-^ 
xiety, to that critical day, when the work itfelf mull be fubmitted- 
to the examination of the fame formidable tribunal, from whofe 
decrees it is in vain for any author to appeal. To be fure of fue- 
ceeding, would be arrogance ; to defpond, puiillanimity. My 
hopes are at leafl equal to my fears; and as long as the balance 
is but equally poized, I will perfevere in holding it. 

Should I even fail in the execution of fo vail a projecl, there is- 
fome confolation in thinking that I have, in the opinion of good 
judges, pointed out the right way to fuccefs. My Profpeclus, I am 
told, may ferve as a general chart to younger and more unexperi- 
enced ftudents in divinity, who may chufe to embark in the fame 
perilous voyage. I have delineated with precifion the track which 


I judged thefafefV for them to purfue, indicated the principal landr- 
marks that fhould diredl their courfe, fixed buoys and beacons 
wherever I thought there was need, and warned them of fuch rocks 
and fhallows as they run the greatell rifk of making fhipwreck 
upon. Should my own little vefTel be, notwithftanding, dalhed 
to pieces, let it be imputed to the unfkllfulnefs of the pilot, not to 
the impradlicability of the paflage; and ferve only to encreafe the 
warinefs and vigilance of the next navigator, without diminifliing 
his intrepidity and fpirit of enterprize. 

By fome, perhaps, it may be expected that I fhould here give a 
fpecimen of my tranflatioa and of the form it is to appear in. Bur, 
belldes that this laft is not yet exactly determined, a fketch of the 
verfion itfelf would be but a fallacious criterion, by which to pafs 
a judgment either favourable or unfavourable. I flaall be always 
ready to comm.unicate my ideas and labours to the learned of every 
denomination, who may do me the honour to intereft themfelyes 
in my undertaking, and fliall pay every fort of due attention to 
their obfervations or advice : but I fee no reafon for gratifying idle 
curiofity, or m^alignant cenforioufnefs, by a premature and partial 
publication. I will, however, fubjoin a fliort notice of the general 
oeconomy of the work, and fo conclude a Profpeiflus, that by fome 
may, polfibly, be deemed already too long. 

Although the new verfion he made from a corre^fled text of the 
originalj, die prefent printed copies are never departed from, with- 


out a fpecial notation. The additions, omiffions, tranfpolitions and 
variations are all didinguifhed by refpedlive fymbols, and llipported 
by correfponding authorities. 

The text of the verfion will be divided into new and more natu- 
ral fedlions, the number and contents of which will be printed on 
the outer margin : but the old divilion of chapters and verfes will, 
for the reafons abovcmentioned, be retained, and marked in the 
inner margin. 

The corrcdlional references, various readings, and explanatory 
notes, will be at the bottom of the page ; the critical annotations at 
the end of the volume, 

A new comparative Chronology will accompany every principal 
tranfadlion, and be exprefled in years before Chrift, at the top of 
the page. 

"With regard to the concordantial references, or parallel paf- 
i'aq:es, with which the margins of our Bibles are crowded ; thofe of 
them only will be retained that are manifeftly real : for the greater 
number are only diftant, and often arbitrary, allufions. 

To every Volume, and for the mofl part to every Book, will be 
prefixed a particular Preface; in which a compendious critical ac- 
count will be given of its real or fuppofed author, its fubjedt, ftile 
and chara(5ler, and the rank it holds among the Hebrew fcriptures 
in the Jewifh and Chriftian canons. 

The whole of the Old Teilament will, as far as can be yet con- 


jedlured, be compriled in four volumes. The firfl will contain the 
Pentateuch and its fupplement the Book of Jofhua; the fecond, the 
reft of the Hiftorical Books in their natural order ; the third, the 
Hagiographa; and the fourth, the Prophets. To thefe it is intended 
to add a fifth, which, if properly executed, would be an ufeful in- 
trodudlion to the other four. Befide a general Preface and Indexes, 
it fhould contain the difcuffion of a great number of queflions re- 
lative to the Hebrew fcriptures ; their antiquity, authenticity, in- 
fpiration, &c. many of which ftill appear to be fufceptible of far- 
ther elucidation. 

As foon as the Firfl Volume fliall be ready for the prefs, due 
notice will be given of the time and teniis of publication j as like- 
wafe at what particular periods the following volumes may be ex- 

I have now only to requefl the learned, into whofe hands this 
Profpedlus may come, to favour me with their remarks and ilridlures 
on fuch parts of it as they may think defecflive or improveable. 
And if they will, moreover, be fo kind as to tranfmit to me their 
own obfervations on any difficult pafTage of Scripture, I fhall con- 
fider it as a fingular obligation, and make a public acknowledge- 
ment of it. Any communications of this kind may be diredled. 
to the Author in Maddox Street, or to his Bookfeller, R. Faulder, 
in Bond Street, London. 





This book is DUE on the last date stamped below 

FEB 3 ;949 


DEC 61956 

^ DEC 16 f 6 



NOV 4 



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- DEC(/2^97^ 

^4V 1 79g5 


.mM 2 5 1985 


LOS ANflKi.tS 


3 1158 01066 6677 

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D 000 711 386 3